Israel delays ruling on Australian wanted for sex crimes

Australian Malka Leifer is brought to a courtroom in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. An Israeli court said Tuesday that Leifer who is accused of sex crimes will not be extradited for reasons of mental illness. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

JERUSALEM - An Israeli court said Tuesday that it will delay consideration of whether to extradite a woman accused of sex crimes in Australia until a psychiatrist can review her case.

Australia wants 54-year-old Malka Leifer extradited for allegedly sexually abusing children while she was a teacher at a local school. Israeli police have said she is feigning mental illness to avoid extradition.

Leifer's lawyer, Yehuda Fried, said earlier that the Jerusalem District Court ruled she should be dealt with "in the realm of mental illness." Fried said that likely meant a years-long process before her extradition can be reconsidered.

But Israel's Court Administration later said that the court will convene again on March 28 after the psychiatric evaluation has been carried out, indicating an extradition decision could be taken sooner.

Leifer was arrested following an undercover investigation at Interpol's request and is suspected of obstructing Israeli court proceedings by attempting to hide evidence. An Israeli court previously stopped extradition proceedings after determining she was not fit to stand trial.


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