The former Melbourne school principal Malka Leifer, who is accused of sexually assaulting female students, has lost a bid in an Israeli court to stop a further psychiatric examination to assess if she is mentally fit for extradition.
The Jerusalem supreme court on Tuesday rejected an appeal filed by Leifer’s lawyers against a district court decision handed down in late September that ordered a new psychiatric panel to assess and report on the 52-year-old’s mental state.
The appeal was heard a week before the new panel was due to present its findings to the Israeli court.
Leifer faces extradition to Australia on 74 charges of sexually assaulting students during her time at Melbourne’s ultra-orthodox Adass Israel school.
She fled to Israel in 2008 after the allegations emerged and the process to extradite her has stalled several times since charges were laid in 2013.
Dassi Erlich, one of her alleged victims, has been fighting along with her sisters to bring Leifer back to Australia. She had a nervous six-hour wait for a final decision from the supreme court’s judge David Mintz.
“With two months since the last hearing, Leifer has been front and centre of our minds and we almost forgot how emotionally exhausting and physically gruelling these hearings are,” Erlich said. “Time to breathe, sleep and remember we will get through this.”
In September judge Chana Miriam Lomp deemed there was not enough evidence that Leifer was mentally fit to face an extradition trial, even though court proceedings have been under way since 2014.
Israel’s State Attorney Office, acting as the prosecution in the case against Leifer, has produced countless evidence over the 61 court hearings that the accused is feigning mental illness to avoid an extradition trial.
At the end of October Leifer’s lawyers had stated she would not cooperate in the fresh psychiatric assessment. The district court judge ruled the panel should proceed anyway.
In court on Tuesday Leifer’s defence continued to claim there was no “rationale” or “authority” by the court for the accused to undergo another assessment, and it was unfair on the defendant.
The psychiatric panel will examine Leifer on Wednesday before presenting its report to the court on Tuesday.
The report will be discussed at next week’s hearing and both sides will then be given the opportunity to cross-examine the psychiatrists.
The victim supporter Manny Waks said he was pleased with the supreme court’s decision.
“We expect next week’s decisive hearing to rule that Malka Leifer is indeed fit to face justice, and that her extradition hearing will finally recommence,” he said.
“This ongoing farce must end, and justice must prevail – for Leifer’s victims and for other victims who are being deterred from pursuing justice.”
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