Israel is appearing in court in Australia on child abuse charges

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – A former school principal who was expelled from Israel six years after being arraigned in an Australian court on Monday to hear evidence against children.

The trial court began with the Melbourne Supreme Court to decide whether there was enough evidence against Malka Leifer to try the case.

The 54-year-old has been facing 74 charges, including rape and abuse, from the time he was principal of Melbourne’s Adass Israel School between 2004 and 2008.

Sisters Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper are among 10 witnesses to testify in the case, which is expected to begin next Monday.

Last year, the sisters were granted a court order allowing them to speak publicly and under their own names for the alleged harassment of Leifer.

The Associated Press rarely identifies victims of sexual assault, but the brothers have openly stated their accusations as part of their efforts to force Leifer to return to Australia.

Leifer was deported from Israel in January. The court case and the repeated delay in his reinstatement condemned the Australian authorities and the Jewish leaders in the country.

When her cases first surfaced in 2008, Israeli-born Leifer dropped out of school and returned to Israel. The two countries have a consensus, but opponents, including Leifer’s accusers, say Israeli officials have dropped the case, while Leifer says he was too irrational to be tried.

Last year, an Israeli intelligence agency confirmed that Leifer was lying about his ideas, and initiated a retaliation. In December, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a final appeal for bail, and Israel’s Israeli Ministry of Justice signed a decree to be sent to Australia.

Witnesses testifying this week were doing so in a closed court. Only magistrates, lawyers, court staff members and Leifer were allowed to watch the proceedings.

The brothers asked to testify in person, but the current ban means that all cases must be conducted online.

Leifer is seen with a video link from the Melbourne women’s prison, Dame Phyllis Frost Center.

He was charged with 47 counts of child abuse, 13 counts of child abuse, 11 counts of rape and three counts of child molestation. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

On Monday, the court ruled that no Jewish witnesses could testify on Thursday, which is Yom Kippur, the most holy day. Permission was also granted so that Leifer would not appear in court the same day, but for the case to continue in his absence.

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