Daily News Roundup

October 11, 2019

Thursday, October 10

Israel’s Supreme Court has overturned a decision to release alleged paedophile Malka Leifer on bail.

Ms Leifer has fought against her extradition on mental health grounds since 2014

Victoria Police is seeking to extradite Ms Leifer to face 74 charges of sexual abuse against students at the Adass Israel Jewish girls school in Melbourne, where she was the principal.

On Thursday (local time), the Supreme Court of Israel rejected an order by the Jerusalem District Court last week to release Ms Leifer from jail to house arrest while her extradition case is underway.

One of Ms Leifer’s alleged victims, Dassi Erlich, welcomed the decision.

“It was definitely worth waking up to hear this,” she said.

“We’ve been waiting anxiously for a week now to hear this news and such a huge amount of relief to know that she’s staying in jail.”

The extradition stalled after a court ruled she had a debilitating mental illness and was not fit to be sent to Australia to face charges.

But private investigators commissioned by the group Jewish Community Watch filmed Ms Leifer shopping, socialising and going into Tel Aviv to cash welfare cheques, despite her telling the court she was housebound and catatonic.

That led Israeli police to arrest her on suspicion of obstruction of justice and she was jailed in February 2018, although that particular case against her has not progressed in Israel’s courts.

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Thousands of civilians are fleeing northern Syria as Turkey intensifies its assault against US-allied Kurdish forces.

Terrified men, women and children, no strangers to death and destruction are heading away from the horror with their belongings loaded into cars, utes and motorcycle rickshaws, while others escaped on foot in face of airstrikes and artillery bombardments.

The UN refugee agency said tens of thousands were on the move, and aid agencies warned that nearly half a million people near the border were at risk.

The Turkish Government considers members of the Kurdish militia to be “terrorists” because of their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has led an insurgency against Turkey for 35 years and the cross border assault aims to carve out a ‘safe zone’ — a corridor of control along the border.

The Syrian Kurdish militia was the only US ally in the fight against Islamic State in Syria

The Turkish air and ground assault was launched three days after US Mr Trump opened the way by pulling American troops from their positions near the border alongside their Kurdish allies.

At a time when Mr Trump faces an impeachment inquiry, the move drew swift and sharp criticism from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, along with many national defence experts, who say it has endangered not only the Kurds and regional stability but also US credibility.

Mr Trump warned Turkey to safeguard civilians, threatening sanctions in a flurry of tweets on Thursday.

But the opening barrage showed little sign of holding back. The Turkish military said its jets and artillery had struck 181 targets so far.

On the Syrian side, seven civilians and eight Kurdish fighters had been killed since the operation began, according to activists in Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 109 “terrorists” were killed in the offensive, a reference to the Syrian Kurdish fighters.

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A 27-year-old Queensland man who lured a seven-year-old girl from a shopping centre north of Brisbane before molesting her in bushland, has been sentenced to seven years jail.

Sterling Mervyn Free lured the girl from her mother in the toy aisle of Kmart in Westfield North Lakes in December, before driving her to an isolated spot about 30 minutes away, and indecently assaulting her.

He dropped the girl back to the centre more than an hour later.

The father-of-two pleaded guilty in the District Court in July to taking a child for immoral purposes, deprivation of liberty, and indecent treatment of a child under 12.

In sentencing today, Judge Julie Dick said Free’s offending was “every parent’s nightmare” and “involved some pre-meditation”.

He will be eligible for parole in June 2021.

Child safety advocate Denise Morcombe was at court for the sentencing, earlier tweeting that her and her husband Bruce were “shocked” at the “brazen nature” of the “frightening” abduction, releasing a statement on behalf of the girl’s mother.

“My tiny, innocent girl was well aware of stranger danger, however this person was friendly to her and tricked her into following him,” the statement read.

“No child should ever have to go through this type of trauma, and no sentence will ever be long enough to make up for the ongoing effects this will have on her.

“We, as a family, remain positive and are trying to move forward.”