Israeli court rules accused child sex offender Malka Leifer is mentally fit for extradition to Australia

Malka Leifer, a former Australian teacher accused of dozens of cases of sexual abuse of girls at a school, arrives for a hearing at the District Court in Jerusalem, Feb. 27, 2018. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Alleged sex offender Malka Leifer is mentally fit to be extradited and stand trial in Australia, a Jerusalem judge ruled Tuesday.

District Court Judge Chana Miriam Lomp ruled that extradition proceedings should reopen. The decision can and likely will be appealed to the Supreme Court.

A panel of state psychiatrists determined in January that Leifer was fit for extradition. Earlier evaluations had found her too unstable to be deported.

Leifer, 53, fled to Israel from Australia in 2008 amid allegations that she had sexually abused students when she was the principal at the Adass Yisroel school in Melbourne. Australia officially filed an extradition request in 2014 after she was indicted in a court there on 74 counts of rape and sexual assault.

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She was arrested the same year and then released after claiming, and being deemed, mentally unfit for the legal proceedings. She was rearrested in 2018 after an undercover investigation found that she lived a normal life and was mentally fit to face extradition proceedings.

Former Health Minister Yaakov Litzman was accused of threatening the state psychiatrists in the latest evaluation to declare Leifer unfit for extradition. Police in August recommended Litzman be indicted on charges of witness tampering, fraud and breach of trust over his involvement in Leifer’s case.

The dragging out of the case over six years has led to bad feelings against Israel in the Australian Jewish community.