Malka Leifer loses bid in Israel to be released to house arrest

A Jerusalem court has refused to release to house arrest an ultra-Orthodox Israeli woman sought by Australia over accusations of sexually abusing girls under her care there.

District court justice Ram Winograd said that Malka Leifer would remain in detention for the duration of her extradition hearings, rejecting her lawyers’ argument that treatment for her alleged mental condition in prison was “life threatening.”

“The respondent is under the medical supervision of the prison, and undergoes weekly psychiatric evaluations,” Winograd said at the end of the hearing.

“There is no room to assume that the treatment in the prison was risking her life.”

Leifer’s mental condition and her fitness to stand trial were at the heart of Monday’s session, which drew increased attention after recent allegations that Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman had used his authority to help prevent her extradition.

According to media reports beginning last week, Litzman, who is also ultra-Orthodox, had pressured medical officials to proclaim Leifer unfit to stand trial.

Litzman and a number of his aides were questioned by police, with his office denying any wrongdoing.

Read the article in The Australian (AFP).