Malka Leifer, a former Australian teacher accused of dozens of cases of sexual abuse of girls at a school, arrives for a hearing at the District Court in Jerusalem on February 27, 2018, Israel on February 12 arrested the Australian woman who is wanted in her home country on child sex abuse charges, police announced. The suspect has been living in a West Bank settlement for the past decade following a complaint filed against her by a former student at a Jewish ultra-Orthodox school she ran in Melbourne. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Jerusalem Post

After six years of court proceedings, the Jerusalem District Court finally ruled Monday to extradite suspected sex offender Malka Leifer to Australia where she is wanted on 74 charges of sexual abuse and rape of minors.

The ruling is another major milestone in a case that has been beset by alleged political interference and highly unusual legal claims about mental competence for extradition, which has severely delayed the extradition process.

Leifer can now appeal the extradition decision to the Supreme Court. If the court rejects the appeal, the justice minister can then sign off on the extradition, a decision which can also be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Should the court reject that appeal, Leifer will be extradited to Australia.

At the beginning of September, the Supreme Court rejected Leifer’s appeal against the decision handed down by the Jerusalem District Court in May that she was mentally fit for extradition.

Lefier has evaded extradition to Australia for six years by claiming to be mentally unfit for trial or extradition, and the Supreme Court ruling finally closed that central aspect of her legal fight with a definitive ruling which completely rejected that claim.

Three of Leifer’s alleged victims, Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper, who have waged a long legal and public diplomacy campaign for her extradition, warmly welcomed the decision.

“This is a victory for justice! A victory not just for us, but for all survivors,” they said in a brief statement.

“Exhaling years of holding our breath!… Today our hearts are smiling!”

The Zionist Federation of Australia said the decision was “long overdue” and that it is “well past time” that Leifer was extradited.

“The survivors deserve justice. We commend the bravery of the survivors who have never wavered in their determination and commitment to bring Leifer back to Australia to face justice,” Zionist Federation of Australia President Jeremy Leibler said.

He also called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ensure that the government does everything to facilitate the extradition process, as the prime minister promised him in a meeting last October.

The Magen organization, which was involved in exposing evidence that Leifer was living a normal life while claiming to be mentally unfit for trial, said the court’s ruling “validated that which we and so many have argued for so long – Malka Leifer is fit and must stand trial for the crimes that she is alleged to have committed.”

Magen added that “we also hope this will send a message of strength to survivors of sexual abuse in Israel and around the world, that while the journey may be long and difficult, the truth is worth fighting for.”

Manny Waks, director of the Kol V’Oz (Voice and Strength) organization for the prevention of child sex abuse, said that Leifer and the Adass Israel School, where she allegedly committed the sexual abuse of her pupils, had hoped “they had avoided justice” and that “the horrific allegations against her would never be heard in an Australian court.”

Waks condemned the Israeli judicial process for the lengthy time it has taken to reach an extradition ruling for Leifer, saying that these failings must be examined.

”While there may yet be a further appeal, we have now overcome the biggest hurdles and can look forward to Malka Leifer’s extradition. We hope and trust that any remaining processes will be dealt with quickly so that we may see Leifer back in Australia in 2020,” he said.

“We know that there are many more alleged victims of Leifer and we encourage them to now come forward. If they need help, we are here for them. We know how difficult it is, but you will be supported.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here