An Israeli court ordered Wednesday that an ultra-Orthodox Australian woman accused of dozens of sex crimes against minors be placed under psychiatric evaluation until further notice.
The Jerusalem District Court ruled that the woman, whose name may not be published due to a gag order, must remain in custody while the district psychiatrist determines whether she is fit to stand trial
Australia wants the 54-year-old extradited to face 74 charges of sexual abuse of girls at a Melbourne school where she was a teacher and then principal.
The woman was arrested following an undercover police investigation that began last month at Interpol’s request. She was detained Monday on suspicion of obstructing court proceedings by attempting to hide evidence, according to a joint Justice Ministry and police statement. She had been living in the West Bank settlement of Emmanuel.
Australian authorities first filed a request for her extradition in 2014. She was arrested in Israel at the time but was later released to house arrest while awaiting extradition.
In June 2016, an Israeli court stopped the extradition process after a psychiatric assessment found that she was not fit to stand trial. Mental health professionals, including the Jerusalem district psychiatrist, previously confirmed that the woman’s panic attacks prior to her scheduled court appearances were genuine and said the proceedings of a court hearing put her under extreme anxiety.
Over the next six months a psychiatric committee continued to carry out assessments, and repeatedly found she was not able to stand trial.
“During 2017 there were indications that the suspect was pretending to be suffering from a mental illness in order to avoid the extradition process, and as a result, the police again opened an investigation that led to her arrest this morning,” Monday’s statement said.