Frustration in Leifer case

Malka Leifer in court earlier this year. Photo: EPA/Atef Safad

THEY flew around the world hoping to look their alleged abuser in the eye. But Malka Leifer didn’t show up in court, and they were left feeling “powerless”.

After years of anticipation, proceedings in the Leifer extradition case started on Tuesday. Her three best-known alleged victims were there, but left the courtroom early in the day.

“It just got too difficult,” Dassi Erlich said, standing with her sisters Elly Sapper and Nicole Meyer.

Meyer said it was “intense … We can’t say anything and we just wish we could get up and explain how we feel and what she has done to us. We can’t, and it’s just to too hard to sit there. We feel powerless in there because we know we’re not part of this case, yet this case means everything to us.”

For almost seven hours, judge Chana Lomp sat, focusing on expert analysis of Leifer’s mental state, and hearing conflicting arguments from state lawyers, who want to extradite her, and her legal team. Leifer, who faces charges of 74 counts of abuse in Victoria, was meant to attend, but didn’t due to ill health.

Summarising his arguments to The AJN, Leifer’s lawyer Yehuda Fried said that she is so psychotic that she is being force-fed the “strongest anti-psychotic medicine on the market”, and can’t face proceedings. State attorney Matan Akiva said that he believes Leifer is faking her mental illness.

Tuesday ended without any clear outcome. To the sisters’ dismay, the cross-examination of psychiatrists wasn’t completed, and is to be dragged out until January. They left frustrated that Leifer didn’t attend and that media, activists and the general public were barred from the courtroom.

Despite the disappointments, the sisters had some success in raising the almost non-existent profile of the case in Israel by visiting, and for the first time a Knesset member, Rachel Azaria, attended the courthouse. Azaria told The AJN she showed up to embolden the sisters’ campaign, because the saga is “outrageous”.

NATHAN JEFFAY