Leifer release postponed pending appeal

Malka Leifer hid her face in court in Israel on Tuesday (February 13). Photo: Nathan Jeffay

Malka Leifer’s planned release to house arrest has been stopped, at least for now, after a last-minute Supreme Court appeal.

On Wednesday, a judge shocked Leifer’s accusers by agreeing to release her from a secure facility to house arrest. But the Supreme Court has now agreed to consider an appeal against this decision.

The judge will make a decision on the appeal in the coming days, and until then, Leifer will continue to he held.

If the judge rejects the appeal, she is expected to be released straight away, while if he accepts it, she will remain in the secure facility, at least until the next court hearing in late March.

Shana Aaronson of Jewish Community Watch told The AJN that she felt “cautious relief and optimism” following this development. Activists are also relieved that the psychiatrist’s report which concluded that Leifer is fit to stand trial has now been signed, after lacking the signature needed to make it official for several days.

During the hour-long Supreme Court hearing the Israeli state prosecution, which is fighting for Leifer’s extradition, raised concerns that if she is freed she could end up leaving Israel, while the defence said she is not a flight risk.

The bombshell decision to release Leifer  came after a surprise development. The nationally-renowned rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, founder of a youth network which educates more than 12,000 students annually, showed up at court. Detaining Leifer is undignified, he argued, insisting that instead, she should live with one of his adult students.

Welcoming the result of the appeal, child abuse advocate Manny Waks said, “We’re pleased the appeal was successful and the latest travesty of justice has been averted, at least temporarily. The fact that the District Court ruled to release Leifer based primarily on the views and commitments of Rabbi Grossman has justifiably continued to raise questions about the Israeli judicial process.

“As we’ve repeatedly stated, Leifer belongs in a court-room or at a medical facility where she can recuperate and ultimately face justice. There is simply no alternative – not for her alleged victims and not for the safety and well-being of Israeli children today.”