Middle East

Malka Leifer 'fit to be extradited to Australia' to face child abuse charges

Malka Leifer Source: SBS

The extradition hearing of Australian Malka Leifer in Israel continues after her arrest last February. The defence is set to argue she is mentally unfit.

Two psychiatrists have told an Israeli court that former school principal Malka Leifer is fit to be extradited to Melbourne to face child sex abuse charges.

The psychiatrists appeared for the state prosecution at a closed-door extradition hearing on Thursday local time.

Leifer's lawyer Yehuda Fried says the defence will argue Leifer is mentally unfit for extradition.

Malka Leifer, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman, seen handcuffed, as she brought to Jerusalem District court by the Israeli prison service guards
Malka Leifer, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman, as she was brought handcuffed to court in Jerusalem last year.

The defence is expected to present three psychiatrists, beginning next Thursday, and the hearing is expected to go until mid-year.

"It will not finish next Thursday, this will continue with other experts," Mr Fried said after the hearing. "I think this will go on until at least May or June this year."

Victorian police want to bring Leifer, who was arrested in Israel in February, back to Australia to face 74 charges of child sexual abuse.

The allegations are linked to her time as head of Adass Israel School's girls' campus in Melbourne in the 2000s.

Leifer flew to Israel but was later arrested there and last August was deemed mentally fit to face the extradition hearing.

'We pray'

Dassi Erlich, who has accused Leifer of abusing her, stayed up to the early hours on Friday AEDT for news from the latest proceedings.

"With several expert witnesses still to take the stand, we pray that the judge will come to the right decision and find Malka Leifer extraditable," she told AAP.

Ms Erlich expressed frustration with the "seemingly endless" case.

"Yehuda Fried has promised to bring everything needed under the sun, not just his three expert witnesses, in order to delay the process," she said.

Leifer is currently being held in Israel's Ramla prison.

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