The Supreme Court of Israel has heard arguments appealing a previous court decision to extradite accused child sex offender Malka Leifer to Australia.
The panel of three judges on Thursday appeared to reject the defence arguments, considering many were based on those previously made in the District Court, as well as some being lewd or offensive to the alleged survivors of Leifer’s abuse.
Leifer is wanted in Australia to face 74 charges of rape and child abuse stemming from her time as principal at Melbourne’s ultra-Orthodox Addas Israel School.
Three Melbourne sisters – Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper – filed police reports in Australia in 2011 and have been fighting to have her extradited from Israel, where she had fled after allegations arose in 2008.
The Jerusalem District Court on September 21 ruled Leifer would be extradited, though an expected appeal was filed by her defence.
Today is hearing number 74 in a long saga for the Melbourne sisters to bring Leifer home.
Leifer’s lawyers, who defended her throughout the last six years, abruptly quit on November 20 – just weeks before the appeal on Thursday.
Nick Kaufman, the same lawyer who defended Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s children at the International Criminal Court, subsequently took on Leifer’s case and appeal.
Manny Waks, a longtime victim supporter and CEO of VoiCSA – an organisation speaking out against child sexual abuse in the Jewish community – believes Leifer’s legal team quit because they knew they reached a dead end of long, drawn-out hearings.
“[They] seemingly expect the Supreme Court to uphold the District Court’s decision to extradite Leifer to Australia to belatedly face justice,” Waks said.
Kaufman exhausted many arguments against the decision to extradite Leifer, the majority of them rehashed from the extradition trial.
He attempted to prove the complainants’ police statements were not taken according to the law, and declared there was consent in at least one of the alleged cases of abuse – signalling it undermines the charges.
Ms Meyer and her sisters said they have prepared mentally for these arguments by the defence in court.
“It’s always very difficult to hear this because until she is in an Australian court we won’t have a chance to speak our truth,” she told AAP.
The Supreme Court judges continued to reject Kaufman’s claims and arguments, including one relating to the lack of a fair trial and jury Leifer would face in Australia, based on the high level of publicity around the case over the years.
The court will hand down its decision on Leifer’s extradition to Australia in the coming days.