First witness called against Malka Leifer

A Melbourne hearing has begun to find if there's enough evidence for Malka Leifer to stand trial.
A Melbourne hearing has begun to find if there's enough evidence for Malka Leifer to stand trial.

Three women who say they were abused by former ultra-Orthodox school principal Malka Leifer will get their chance to give evidence against her this week.

A hearing is underway in Melbourne Magistrates Court for Leifer who is facing 74 charges including rape and indecent assault allegedly committed while she was head of Melbourne's Adass Israel School beween 2004 and 2008.

Sisters Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper are among 10 people expected to give evidence during the committal hearing, which is expected to run until next Monday.

Last year they were granted a court order allowing them to speak publicly and under their real names.

The first of the women has been called to give evidence, which is happening in a closed court with only legal teams, a magistrate and Leifer present.

The siblings had asked to give evidence in person but current coronavirus restrictions mean the entire hearing has to be conducted online.

Leifer is also appearing by videolink, from Melbourne's women's prison, the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre.

She returned to Australia in January after a years long extradition process.

The committal hearing will determine if there is enough evidence for Leifer to stand trial on 47 indecent assault charges, 13 counts of committing an indecent act with a child, 11 of rape and three of sexually penetrating a child.

On Monday the court heard no Jewish witnesses would give evidence in the hearing on Thursday, which is Yom Kippur, a high holy day.

Permission was also granted for Leifer to not appear in court that day, but for proceedings to continue in her absence.

Australian Associated Press