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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel court hears teacher wanted in Australia on child sexual abuse charges

Malka Leifer, right [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 December, 2020

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An Israeli court is hearing the case of Malka Leifer, a former teacher wanted in Australia on child sexual abuse charges.


Israel's top court heard arguments on Thursday from the defense team of an Israeli teacher who is appealing a previous court decision to extradite her to Australia where she is wanted on charges of sexually abusing students.

Defense attorneys for Malka Leifer claim she is not mentally fit to stand trial.

A District Court in Jerusalem earlier ruled that she could stand trial, based on the opinion of a professional panel, and paved the way for her to be extradited to Australia.

Leifer is accused of sexually abusing several former students and has been fighting extradition from Israel since 2014.

"From our perspective the defense team has been exploiting the system, and we must have a review of the Israeli judicial process," said Manny Waks, Chief Executive Officer of Kol V'Oz, an organisation that combats sexual abuse in Jewish communities.

Read more: What a Biden presidency means for US ties with Israel

"At the same time we've also seen repeated victim blaming.

"As much as (lawyer Nick) Kaufman here wants to stand up and say, that they're getting into victim blaming, absolutely there was victim blaming, today and previous times.

"The fact that there can be a suggestion that any of these girls consented to having some sort of sexual contact with their school principal is absolutely absurd."

She maintains her innocence and the battle surrounding her extradition has strained relations between Israel and Australia.

"We've now reached the final stage of the extradition process," said Nick Kaufman, Attorney representing Malka Leifer.

"We raised a number of arguments concerning the judgment which is given in the District Court. We feel that we've argued those very clearly, we feel that the judges understood them and were hoping for a positive result."

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