Malka Leifer is brought to a courtroom in Jerusalem. Picture: AP
Malka Leifer is brought to a courtroom in Jerusalem. Picture: AP

Sex-charge teacher loses prison release bid

ACCUSED paedophile school principal Malka Leifer has lost her bid for prison release, with a judge refusing her request to be transferred into house arrest.

Leifer made an unsuccessful bid for bail tonight in Jerusalem, as a police investigation continued into whether a senior politician corruptly used his position to ensure she was not extradited to Australia.

She is being held in the Neve Tirtza women's prison in Ramla, central Israel, while her lawyers appeal a ruling that she is well enough to face extradition proceedings.

Australia is seeking to have the former principal of the ultra-Orthodox Adass Israel School in Elsternwick, Melbourne, returned to face 74 charges of sexually abusing her former students.

Leifer is resisting the extradition bid, and has successfully argued for five years that she is too mentally unwell to face extradition proceedings.

 

Malka Leifer during a previous court hearing in Jerusalem.The case has been bogged down for years in the court. Picture: AP
Malka Leifer during a previous court hearing in Jerusalem.The case has been bogged down for years in the court. Picture: AP

She was rearrested in the ultra-Orthodox community of Emmanuel in the West Bank last year and charged with faking the mental illness, after an undercover investigation by an activist group and police found evidence of her living a normal life, shopping and catching the bus.

She had claimed she was housebound and virtually non-communicative.

The case has been bogged down for years in the court - tonight was the 46th time the case was listed.

Dassi Erlich, who alleges she was sexually abused by Malka Leifer when she was a student, pictured   with her sister Nicole Meyer. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian
Dassi Erlich, who alleges she was sexually abused by Malka Leifer when she was a student, pictured with her sister Nicole Meyer. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian

Now, police have revealed they are investigating Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman over

allegations he corruptly used his position to stymie Australia's extradition bid against Leifer.

According to the Times of Israel newspaper, Leifer once taught at a school in Israel affiliated with the Gur Hasidic sect, of which Mr Litzman is a member.

He met with Jerusalem's chief district psychiatrist, Jacob Charnes, who is a key witness in the Leifer case. Multiple media outlets in Israel are alleging Mr Litzman sought to pressure Dr Charnes into issuing a false statement.

Mr Litzman heads the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party and as deputy health minister is Mr Charnes' boss.

Malka Leifer's brother, sister and son leave an earlier court hearing in  Jerusalem. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
Malka Leifer's brother, sister and son leave an earlier court hearing in Jerusalem. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

After Leifer was arrested in 2014, Mr Charnes twice deemed her too mentally unwell to face

extradition proceedings and she was set free.

Following her rearrest a year ago after the undercover investigation, Mr Charnes reversed his

position and agreed she could face the extradition proceedings, but backflipped against last month and reverted to his previous position - that she was too unwell to be sent to Australia.

Mr Litzman does not deny he met with Mr Charnes but has said he did not intervene in the process, and has done nothing wrong. He has said he told those involved to act only within the law.

The alleged victims of Malka Leifer —  sisters Elly Sapper,  Dassi Erlich  and Nicole Meyer.  Picture: Ella Pellegrini
The alleged victims of Malka Leifer — sisters Elly Sapper, Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

He was interviewed by police last Thursday, as were a number of people in his office.

A Justice Ministry official told The Times of Israel that police have recordings of Mr Litzman and his associates pressuring ministry officials to act on Leifer's behalf.

The Zionist Federation of Australia spoken out in support of the three sisters who are the alleged victims of Leifer - Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper.

President of the Federation Jeremy Leibler said: "The Australian Jewish community stands firmly with Dassi Erlich and her sisters in their Bring Leifer Back campaign.

"Leifer's extradition had been a frustratingly drawn out process which has inflicted further pain and suffering on her victims,'' he said.

"Their suffering has undoubtedly been compounded by this most recent allegation.

"We reiterate our call for Leifer to be extradited as soon as possible to face justice in Australian courts and we expect the Israeli government to investigate the allegations of corruption against Yaakov Litzman.''

Mr Leibler said if the allegations against Mr Litzman were proven, he should apologise, and resign as deputy minister.

Leifer is currently appealing the latest court ruling that she is capable of facing extradition

proceedings, and has two further court dates this month.