Court rules Leifer lawyers can contest experts who deemed her fit for trial

The decision will stretch the trial further, stalling the extradition of the alleged pedophile to her native Australia; early 2018 police found evidence that Leifer had faked her mental incompetence

Yael Friedson|
The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday approved a request made by attorneys of Malka Leifer, alleged sexual abuser from Australia, allowing them to contest the psychiatric experts who determined she was fit to stand trial.
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  • The decision means Leifer’s extradition to Australia, which appeared imminent, will stall for several months.
    The psychiatrists from Leifer’s defense team, Moshe Kotler and Sam Tiano, will now be allowed to submit medical opinions that Leifer suffers from a mental illness, contradicting the conclusion of the psychiatric panel.
    2 View gallery
    מלכה לייפר
    מלכה לייפר
    Malka Leifer
    (Photo: Amit Shaabi)
    The two testified last year the former Melbourne principal of the ultra-Orthodox school was unfit to stand trial.
    Last month, however, the psychiatric panel concluded she had lied about suffering from mental illness and is her extradition hearing will be expedited.
    The Jewish Community Watch that has been accompanying Leifer’s victims through the ordeal said the court’s decision fails those who have suffered at the hands of the alleged phedophile.
    Leifer faces 74 counts of sexual assault related to accusations brought forward by three sisters who say they were abused while she was a teacher and principal at the ultra-Orthodox religious school they attended in Melbourne. In 2008, as the allegations surfaced, the Israeli-born Leifer left the school in Australia and returned to Israel.
    2 View gallery
    ראש ממשלת אוסטרליה עם הקורבנות של מלכה לייפר
    ראש ממשלת אוסטרליה עם הקורבנות של מלכה לייפר
    Leifer's alleged victims with Australian prime minister
    After Australia filed an extradition request, Leifer was put under house arrest in 2014 and underwent the beginnings of an extradition process. But that ended in 2016 when a mental health evaluation determined she wasn't fit to stand trial.
    Leifer was again arrested in early 2018 after police found evidence that she had faked her mental incompetence. The court asked for another psychological review, whose findings were announced last week.
    The repeated delays in the case have strained relations with Australia, one of Israel's closest allies. Leaders of Australia's pro-Israel Jewish community have also expressed frustration.
    Associated Press contributed to this report
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