Accused Sex Offender Malka Leifer Fit to Stand Trial, Israeli Panel Finds

Accused sex offender Malka Leifer, who faces 74 charges of indecent acts and rape in Australia, is mentally fit to stand trial, an Israeli panel of expert psychiatrists said on Thursday.

Leifer, who allegedly sexually abused some of her students, is currently held in custody in Israel and wanted by Australia in a case that has strained relations between the two countries and between Israeli authorities and the Australian Jewish community.

The expert opinion ruling that Leifer is fit to stand trial, and thus could be extradited to Australia, is expected to be submitted to the Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday. The judges will then have to rule whether they accept it.

Jewish Community Watch, a U.S.-based organization that has been assisting Leifer's alleged victims, said in a statement that it was clear for them that Leifer “has been fooling everyone and is fit to stand trial.”

“We feel a great sense of relief,” it added, calling on the court to “wait no longer and order her immediate extradition to Australia so that she would finally face justice.”

Leifer's attorneys said in response that "the legal opinion submitted to the court is not surprising. It bears stressing that the two previous legal opinion that determined that Leifer is a faking [her mental illness] and is fit to stand trial were categorically rejected by the court after the evidence were presented. We expect the court's decision will be the same regarding this legal opinion, which we'll address in court.      

Leifer's alleged victims, sisters Dassi Ehrlich, Nicole Mayer and Elly Sapper, said in a statement that "We cannot believe this day has come. Incredible news. We knew this all along! Such a long wait! Justice has come!!"

In December, the president of the Zionist Federation of Australia published a letter protesting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to appoint ultra-Orthodox lawmaker Yaakov Litzman, who is suspected of aiding Leifer evade extradition to Australia, as health minister.