Former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu has called on the Federal Government to publicly denounce an Israeli court’s decision to grant bail to former Melbourne principal and alleged child sex abuser Malka Leifer.
- Former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu said the Israeli court’s handling of Malka Leifer’s case had been a “farce”
- Ms Leifer faces 74 counts of child sex abuse in Victoria but fled to Israel when she was accused in 2008
- Mr Baillieu is calling on the Federal Government to publicly advocate for Ms Leifer’s extradition
An Israeli court yesterday granted bail to Ms Leifer as she continues to fight against her extradition to Australia where she faces 74 charges of sexual assault while she was the principal of the Adass Israel Girls School in Melbourne.
The 52-year-old will be released to her sister’s house under the supervision of five ultra-orthodox Jewish women unless lawyers for the State of Israel appeal the decision within two days.
Mr Baillieu has been supporting Ms Leifer’s alleged victims and tweeted in response to the ruling that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne “must speak out” and that “Israeli justice is a farce!”.
Tweet from former premier Ted Baillieu: “And so the sham goes on. 58 hearings. Back to square one. Israeli justice is a farce!”
Speaking to ABC Radio Melbourne, Mr Baillieu said Ms Leifer’s alleged victims had endured a legal saga that had stretched for more than a decade.
“They have been tortured physically and personally through the [alleged] crimes and now they’re being tortured over more than 10 years by a justice system that’s completely and utterly failed, not only the girls, but Australians and Israelis,” he said.
“We’ve got a judge who has been on a judicial frolic … anybody who looks at this knows that it’s been a farce.”
‘Mute is not working’
Mr Baillieu also highlighted the fact that Israel’s Deputy Health Minister had been investigated and could face charges over allegations he interfered in Ms Leifer’s case by attempting to obtain false medical papers to prevent her extradition.
He urged the Federal Government to advocate publicly for Ms Leifer’s extradition because “mute is not working”.
“This can’t be in line with the basis of the extradition treaty we have,” he said.
Tweet from Dassi Erlich: Thank you Ted Baillieu. Thank you for standing up for all survivors of sexual abuse
Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy also expressed frustration at the decision to grant Ms Leifer bail and said some “pretty extraordinary legal gymnastics” had resulted in the delays to her extradition.
Ms Leifer fled to her native Israel 11 years ago when allegations of inappropriate behaviour involving a student first surfaced.
Australia filed an extradition request, and the mother of eight was arrested by Israeli police in 2014.
Ms Leifer has managed to avoid multiple extradition hearings, claiming she was too unwell to leave her home and face the court.
Malka Leifer left Melbourne in the middle of the night when the allegations against her surfaced in 2008. (ABC News: Sophie McNeill)
But she was jailed last year after private investigators obtained videos of her living normally in an orthodox Jewish settlement.
In five years of court hearings, 30 psychiatrists have already been involved in determining whether she is faking her illness to avoid extradition.
Alleged victims ‘reeling’ from bail decision
Psychiatrists are expected to submit a final report on Ms Leifer’s mental fitness in December.
One of Ms Leifer’s alleged victims, Dassi Erlich, told ABC Radio Melbourne that she was outraged her alleged abuser was granted bail.
“We are just reeling. I don’t have any words. I think this is a huge, massive betrayal of trust in this whole process of supposed justice,” Ms Erlich said.
Ms Erlich and her two sisters allege they were abused by their principal between 2001 and 2008.
Sisters Nicole Meyer, Elly Sapper and Dassi Erlich all allege they were sexually abused by Malka Leifer. (Australian Story: Mark Farnell)
They said they were unaware they were all being molested by their headmistress for many years.
Ms Erlich sued the Adass Israel Girls School in 2015, and was awarded $1.27 million in damages from the school and Ms Leifer.
The Federal Government has been contacted for comment.