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Shock resignation

Malka Leifer’s lawyers step down

If the Supreme Court rejects the latest appeal, Israel's Justice Minister will still need to sign off on the extradition in order for Leifer to be put on a plane back to Australia.

Former principal Malka Leifer, wanted in Australia for child sex abuse crimes, seen at the Jerusalem District Court, February 14, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Former principal Malka Leifer, wanted in Australia for child sex abuse crimes, seen at the Jerusalem District Court, February 14, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

JUST days before her extradition appeal hearing in Israel, two lawyers representing alleged child sexual abuser Malka Leifer have announced they’re no longer defending the former Adass Israel School principal.

Tal Gabay and Yehuda Fried have represented Leifer – who is wanted in Victoria on 74 counts of child sex abuse – for over six years and through more than 70 court hearings.

Announcing last week that they would no longer defend their client in court, Gabay said he still believed the Israeli justice system would prevent Leifer’s extradition and that even if it did not, an Australian court would determine that she is unfit to face justice, and therefore will be allowed to return to Israel.

Malka Leifer’s attorneys Tal Gabay (left) and Yehuda Fried speak to reporters at the Jerusalem District Court on September 23, 2019.

Meanwhile, next Thursday, December 3, a three-judge panel at the Supreme Court of Israel will hear an appeal by Leifer’s defence lawyer Nick Kaufman regarding a September ruling that Leifer should be extradited to Australia.

The panel is made up of the same three judges who in a previous ruling against Leifer said that proceedings had dragged out “much beyond what is reasonable”. 

“We therefore expect a prompt and unequivocal decision by the Supreme Court that Malka Leifer must be extradited to Australia as soon as possible,” child sexual abuse victims’ advocate Manny Waks said.

Waks also repeated calls for a “full review to take place in Israel to find out why this particular case has dragged out so long and whether allegations of political interference are substantiated”. 

If the Supreme Court rejects the latest appeal next week, Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn will still be required to sign off on the extradition in order for Leifer to be put on a plane back to Australia – another procedural step that provides a further opportunity for an appeal.

Earlier this month, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told Australia’s new ambassador to the Jewish state Paul Griffiths that the Leifer case “would soon be resolved”.

Leifer remains in police custody and is not expected to return to Australia this year.

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