World

Leifer defence prevents cross-examination

By AAP Newswire

An Israeli court has told the prosecution in the ongoing case of alleged child sex offender Malka Leifer it has one day to decide whether to accept written testimony from defence witnesses or whether it wishes to cross-examine them.

In a hearing to determine if the former Melbourne Jewish girls' school principal is fit to stand extradition trial, the defence has requested their witnesses not be cross-examined.

Wednesday's court hearing follows from a decision three days ago to deny prosecution witnesses court time.

The witnesses presented were from a private investigation into Leifer's mental health, carried out in 2017, which collected evidence she was living a normal life.

This evidence is contrary to the defence's claim she is mentally unfit to stand extradition trial and face the 74 charges of child sex abuse and rape waiting for her in Australia.

Manny Waks, the Chief Executive Director of Kol V'oz, an NGO preventing child sex abuse in the Jewish community, described Wednesday's court hearing as chaotic, referring to the defence lawyers yelling at the judge and prosecution, and scrambling for any way to extend the court process further.

"Today's hearing, number 52 in total, was symptomatic of what we have witnessed to date ... only this time the judge was clearly frustrated and repeatedly attempted to regain control of the situation, with mixed results," Waks told AAP following the hearing.

The defence continued to argue that the interpretation of the private investigation was "wrong" and they believe the conclusions drawn were taken out of context or based on a particular time when Leifer was feeling 'well.'

"I suspect that [the defence] would want the additional witnesses to say 'we've seen her, she's crazy, she's lying down most of the time," Waks said.

The defence witnesses are Leifer's brother, sister and a neighbour.

If the prosecution agrees to accept a written testimony from the defence witnesses, prosecutors will have 30 days to write a concluding argument.