A Jerusalem-based former principal of a Melbourne Jewish school has been found fit to stand trial in Australia on pedophilia charges, a court-appointed panel announced Thursday.
Malka Leifer, a mother of eight who ran the Adass Israel school for girls in Melbourne, fled to Israel two days after details were revealed about 74 sexual offenses she allegedly committed against three female students.
Leifer was informed of the complaints, which allowed her to immediately flee Australia. The school was sued for not passing the students' complaints to the authorities; several members of the school board even helped Leifer to buy her ticket to Israel.
Jerusalem District Court ruled in 2016 that Leifer, who has denied the charges, was mentally unfit to face extradition and trial.
She was re-arrested in 2018 after a police investigation raised questions about the true state of her mental health.
In September, the district court said more psychiatric evidence was needed before it could decide whether to approve extradition to Australia, and ordered a new panel of experts to assess Leifer's mental condition and deliver their report released Thursday.
The Israel Police has also recommended that Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party be charged with fraud and breach of trust for allegedly pressing ministry employees to produce a false psychiatric report for Leifer, claiming she was unfit to stand trial in order to block her extradition.
Australia’s Jewish communities denounced Litzman’s appointment as health minister and urged him to reconsider.
First published: 16:12 , 01.09.20