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Latest Malka Leifer appeal in Israel heard in secret

The appeal takes place two months after a Jerusalem court decided that Ms Leifer, who is facing 74 charges of sexually assaulting female students at the ultra-Orthodox Adass Israel school in Elsternwick, is mentally competent to stand trial for extradition to Australia.

Judge Yitzhak Amit told the defence that the number of appeals was unprecedented even among the most high-profile murder trials. Wednesday marked the case’s 70th hearing.

“Some of the things that happened with this case have never taken place in the history of the establishment of the state of Israel,” he said.

Yet the defence was optimistic that the Supreme Court had heard their arguments, with lawyer Yehuda Fried saying outside court that Israel’s highest court authority had listened to their arguments and “understands that there is a problem here”.

Leifer’s defence claims the Jerusalem district court decision in May that she was faking illness to avoid extradition was “unreasonable”, in light of the fact that she is receiving treatment from the Israeli prison service including daily taking anti-psychotic drugs.

Due to the secrecy of the hearing, the prosecution was unable to comment on what took place inside court, but lawyer Ayelet Rivner-Oron said they were hopeful the court would deny the appeal. “We hope we will be able to proceed with her extradition to Australia,” she said.

The three sisters accusing Ms Leifer of child abuse, Eli Sapper, Nicole Myer and Dassi Erlich, released a statement on Facebook calling the trial a “never-ending quest for justice”. Ms Erlich stated that the sisters “hope to see Leifer in Australia before the 80th court date”.

In a statement to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald outside the court, Manny Waks, a prominent activist against child sexual abuse, said he believed Ms Leifer would be on a plane back to Australia very soon.

“The due process is part of it, but it is very clear what the decision is going to be,” he said.

Members of Malka Leifer's legal team and family in court. The hearing was then closed to the press.

Members of Malka Leifer’s legal team and family in court. The hearing was then closed to the press.Credit:Gabrielle Weiniger

If Ms Leifer’s appeals to the Supreme Court fail, her fate will be decided on September 21 in an extradition hearing at a Jerusalem court. According to her lawyers, the Supreme Court will give its decision on this “complex” appeal in a month’s time.

Ms Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 after the allegations first emerged. The process to extradite her has stalled several times since charges were laid in 2013.

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Premier Daniel Andrews met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018, telling him the only just outcome was for Ms Leifer to face a jury of her peers.

Adass Israel girls’ school was ordered to pay more than $1.1 million in damages to Dassi Erlich in 2015.

In 2016, an Israeli judge found Ms Leifer mentally unfit to face extradition to Australia and she was set free. But she was arrested in February 2018 after a private investigation revealed that she was leading a “normal life” and going about normal daily activities in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Emmanuel.

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