A court ruled Tuesday that an Australian woman accused of multiple sex crimes against children will not be extradited because she is suffering from a mental illness.
The woman’s lawyer said the Jerusalem District Court rejected the prosecution’s request and ruled she should be dealt with “in the realm of mental illness.”
Yehuda Fried said that likely means a years-long process before her extradition can be reconsidered.
Australia wants the 54-year-old extradited for sexually abusing children while she was a teacher at a local school, Adass Israel.
She was arrested following an undercover investigation at Interpol’s request and is suspected of obstructing Israeli court proceedings by attempting to hide evidence.
A court previously stopped extradition proceedings after determining she was not fit to stand trial, though police had claimed she was pretending to be mentally ill to avoid extradition.
Dassi Erlich, who has accused the woman of abuse carried out when she was a pupil, said she was “dumbfounded by the news” of the court ruling.
“Our hearts are heavy with despair. We are silenced once again in the face of yet another stalling tactic to delay justice,” she told The Times of Israel in Melbourne. “In light of this disappointment please give us some time to process this new development.”
Earlier, Erlich said “there are a lot of questions that would need to answered” regarding whether the suspect’s psychological condition was real.
Asserting that the woman was faking her panic attacks, Erlich charged, “There is so much evidence it is hard to refute. She is living a normal life [in Israel].”
The local Australian Jewish community has largely been supportive of her cause, she said, including some within the Adass Israel School community who have contacted her privately and on condition of anonymity.
“They are too afraid to speak out publicly,” she said.
Peter Wertheim, co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, told The Times of Israel that his organization fully supported an extradition.
“This case is of the utmost importance to our community,” he said.