Malka Leifer’s abuse of pupils may not be a crime in Israel, court told

Former school principal Malka Leifer’s alleged sexual abuse of pupils may not necessarily be a crime in Israel and two of the complainants may have consented, an extradition hearing in Jerusalem has been told.

Ms Leifer is facing 74 charges of abusing pupils at the Adass Israel Ultra-orthodox Jewish girls school in Melbourne in the early 2000s. She fled to Israel when first confronted with the allegations in 2008.

Victoria police pressed charges against Ms Leifer in the cases of three sisters, Nicole Meyer, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper including grooming sexual abuse and rape. They allege the abuse continued over a number of years when they were pupils at the school.

On the first of the extradition hearing in the Jerusalem District Court on Monday night (AEST), Ms Leifer appeared via video linkup from the women’s prison where she has been held for the past two years. She wore a headscarf and a mask and sat with her head down. The defence objected to photos being taken of the screen, but Judge Miriam Lomp overruled them.

The defence put its case first on Monday, arguing that the fact that Leifer will face a committal procedure in Australia means she is not being extradited to face certain charges. “This is an interim step and not a final hearing and thus not suitable for extradition,” argued Nick Kaufman, a British-born lawyer with a background in international law and war crimes extraditions, who recently joined Leifer’s defence team.

Read the article by Irris Makler in The Australian.