Lawyers acting for an Orthodox Jewish woman accused of child sexual abuse have resigned just days before her next hearing after Israeli judges ruled that she should be deported to Australia to face trial.
Malka Leifer was headmistress at an Australian Orthodox Jewish girls’ school in Melbourne when several pupils alleged that she had sexually abused them. She fled to Israel just hours before she was due to be arrested and has been fighting extradition ever since.
This week Leifer’s leading defence lawyer Tal Gabay, who has spent years trying unsuccessfully to prove that she is mentally unfit to stand trial, said his team were stepping down before her next hearing at Israel’s Supreme Court on 3 December.
A panel of three judges is due to hear an oral appeal against a District Court’s decision to extradite Leifer to Australia to face 74 charges of child sexual abuse against three complainants – sisters Nicole Meyer, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper.
Manny Waks, an abuse survivor who now heads campaign group Kol v’Oz, said: “This sudden resignation indicates that Leifer’s long-standing and prominent legal defence team expects the Supreme Court to uphold the District Court’s decision.”
He added that the proceedings had already been “dragged out much beyond what is reasonable” and hoped for “a prompt and unequivocal decision”.
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