- According to Israeli Law, for a legal matter to proceed, a defendant must be present in court.
- There is a legal debate in Israel whether this law is only applicable in local Israeli matters or also in international cases.
- This is the first time the Israeli legal system has been faced with this scenario – it has never had to deal with an extradition case being stopped due to the apparent mental health of a defendant.
- Currently, one judge in the case has ruled that the Leifer extradition case may proceed even though Leifer is apparently unable to be present in court, while another judge has ruled that Leifer must be fit to attend court. At this stage, the third judge believes it is unnecessary to give their ruling on the matter and that it should be resolved through government legislation.
- It is important to emphasise that, as per the court ruling, Leifer has monthly psychiatric assessments by a psychiatrist from the Israeli public service (the ruling is for 10 years). There have been two such psychiatrists involved in this monthly process.
- As per the court ruling, every six months, a three-member government-appointed psychiatric committee (a member from the legal fraternity and a psychiatrist from both the private and public sectors) reviews the information from Leifer’s monthly assessments, sees Leifer briefly and makes a determination as to her current mental state. This committee is the sole decision-maker (not the Judge or the Court).
- At this stage, the Israeli judicial system is precluded from getting directly involved.
- There are two options that would force Leifer to face the much-sought extradition hearing. First, if her psychiatric assessors state that Leifer’s mental health has improved to a satisfactory level. Second, if there is sufficient evidence that she has been misleading the court and/or her psychiatrists regarding her mental state.
- Nothing can be done at this stage to prevent Leifer from teaching in Israel or being in contact with children, as the matter is no longer before the court.
- Significant work is continuing by many stakeholders, publicly and privately, to ensure justice is achieved and that Leifer is not a risk to children around her.
As a follow-up to my recent blog post titled Some caution regarding the Malka Leifer case, where I argued against blaming the Israeli government for the Leifer scandal, I have now been provided with the following additional important information: