The arduous process to have a former Melbourne principal brought back to Australia to face trial for allegedly sexually assaulting three young girls has hit another hurdle.
On Tuesday evening a psychiatric panel was set to hand down its report on Malka Leifer’s mental ability to face an extradition trial on 74 child sexual abuse charges, but the hearing was cancelled at the last minute.
The psychiatrists reviewing Ms Leifer’s mental fitness said they needed another month to examine her further after forgetting that the hearing was scheduled for Tuesday.
The shock cancellation came as a surprise to everyone, including alleged victims Dassi Erlich and her two sisters Nicole and Elly, who were watching the hearing from Melbourne.
“We feel sick with anxiety,” Ms Erlich told The New Daily in a statement.
“Three months waiting for this day. Adjourned to January 14 because the psychiatrists were unaware of the hearing today.
“Who didn’t get the memo? Was this intentional?”
Attempts to have Ms Leifer, a former headteacher at an ultra-orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne, brought back to face justice in Australia have dragged on for more than five years and involved more than 60 trials.
More than 30 psychiatrists have been involved in the long-winded process in determining if Ms Leifer is faking her illness to avoid detection.
She was released on bail after claiming she was too unwell to leave her home. But private investigators obtained videos of her living normally in a Jewish orthodox settlement, shopping and socialising.
The delays have sparked allegations of corruption and political interference in Israel’s judicial system.
Child sex abuse activist Manny Waks, who was live-tweeting the hearing from the courtroom, was outraged by the snap decision: “Today’s outcome of hearing number 62 is absolutely outrageous”.
“Apparently the psychiatric panel was unaware of today’s hearing, and that they needed to provide a decision to the court prior to the hearing.
“And apparently the judge wasn’t aware of this until today’s hearing – had she known earlier, she could’ve postponed the hearing in advance.
“This continues to make a farce of the Israeli judicial system. How can anyone have faith in such a process?”
Former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu, who has been a staunch supporter of the three women, tweeted: “This shameful farce continues! But the world is watching.”
“And the world should know that Leifer’s victims will not be deterred. They will not be re-victimised. They will not relent.
“No matter the interference or disgraceful legal games – Justice will prevail.”
The report will now be discussed in January, with both sides given the opportunity to cross-examine the psychiatrists.
Ms Erlich said the three sisters were exasperated by the long-winded process.
“Another nerve-wracking month,” she said.
“Will it actually go ahead? How much longer can we hold on?
“We don’t understand why this is happening, but it doesn’t make sense.”