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When Malka Leifer, the ex-principal facing 74 counts of child sex abuses was arrested in this week in Israel, we spoke to a colleague who witnessed the moment firsthand.
The story of Malka Leifer is a bitter one, but one that might be drawing to its conclusion. Leifer, the ex-principal of Melbourne’s Adass Israel School fled to Israel in 2008 to avoid the numerous allegations of sexual abuses raised against her during her employ. Australia has been trying to extradite Leifer since 2013, but have been unsuccessful, as her lawyers claiming Leifer is unfit to travel.
Israeli police re-arrested her on Monday, accusing her of faking a mental illness to avoid extradition, placing her in custody until experts determine her suitability to stand trial.
Alleged paedophile Malka Leifer, a former school principal facing 74 charges of child sex abuse, has been arrested in Israel after a decade of fighting extradition https://t.co/uEz37HbK5i
— The Age (@theage) February 12, 2018
Ittay Flescher, a former teacher at Adass Israel school in Melbourne was present to see his former principal brought in front of the judge. Speaking with Plus61J, Flescher explained the scene:
“As I entered the tiny courtroom with no more than 30 seats, mostly filled with journalists, I was struck by the fact that the only ultra-Orthodox in the court were the family and supporters of her campaign to avoid justice in Australia.
Seeing her sitting in the courtroom wearing a tichel (religious head covering) and traditionally modest clothing worn by Ultra-Orthodox women, I was reminded of the values and lifestyle that she had once tried to instil into girls at the school, and how many innocent childhoods she had destroyed in her failure to do so.
The starkest feature of the two-hour proceeding was the complete absence of the voices of the precious students who are now young women, many traumatised by Leifer’s actions. Even though they weren’t the subject of the trial, it is their voices that must always be front and centre when we talk about this case.”
The development was welcomed by one of Ms Leifer’s alleged victims, and author of the #BringLeiferBack campaign, Dassi Erlich.
“There is an absolute, overwhelming amount of emotion. Not just of myself but of my sisters as well. We have been working really hard on the Bring Leifer Back campaign and for the many, many supporters who have shared this journey of trying to bring some justice,” she told Neil Mitchell on 3AW.
With the machinations of justice now in progress, the chances of seeing Leifer back on home soil are still unknown at this stage. For her alleged victims, hope springs eternal. The current situation is probably best articulated by Flescher, who stated: “…one day, when justice is served, I hope that our community remembers her and the many other victims of institutional abuse who remind us all that healing can come one day for all of us.”