Former students of a Melbourne school have welcomed an Israeli court’s ruling that ex-principal Malka Leifer is mentally fit to face an extradition hearing.
The District Court of Jerusalem on Tuesday accepted a psychiatric panel’s unanimous decision that Leifer was fit to face a hearing to determine if she should be extradited to Australia.
Leifer faces 74 rape and child abuse charges laid in Victoria in 2011, stemming from her time as principal of Melbourne’s Ultra-Orthodox Adass Israel School.
One of Leifer’s alleged victims Dassi Erlich used Twitter to voice her relief at the court’s decision.
“Too many emotions to process!!! This is huge!,” she wrote late on Tuesday night.
Former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu, federal MP Josh Burns and state MP David Southwick are expected to join the sisters.
The court’s ruling was also welcomed by Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter, who said he hoped it gave the alleged victims confidence proceedings would move to Australia.
“Whilst today’s decision can be appealed, it is a positive sign and means that formal extradition proceedings can now lawfully commence, subject to any orders relevant to any possible appeal,” Mr Porter said.
“The allegations against Ms Leifer are very serious and the Australian Government remains strongly committed to ensuring that justice is served in this case.”
Victim advocate group Kol v’Oz chief executive Manny Waks said it was an “amazing” after 67 hearings in the matter.
“Today was the most important decision – Malka Leifer is fit. Everything else from now on is about the procedural process,” he told ABC from Jerusalem.
“I expect it now to move forward quite expeditiously.”
Leifer’s defence is expected to appeal the court’s decision, meaning the case would then move to the Jerusalem High Court.