Israeli officials on Monday extradited a woman wanted on 74 charges of child sex abuse in Australia, following a six-year legal battle that had constrained the relationships between the two governments.
Malka Leifer, a former teacher accused of sexually exploiting several former students at a Jewish school in Melbourne, had been battling extradition from Israel since 2014. Leifer affirms her innocence and the six-year legal battle encompassing her extradition has strained relations between Israel and Australia.
Photographs released by Israeli press show Leifer boarding a plane at Ben Gurion Airport early on Monday, her ankles and wrists bound. Her lawyer confirmed the extradition. She boarded a flight to Frankfurt, where she would transfer to another flight connected to Australia. Her departure was clocked so that she left the country before Israel’s closedown of the airport at midnight due to the country’s coronavirus outbreak.
In December, the Supreme Court denied a final appeal against her extradition, and Israel’s justice minister signed the order to send her to Australia. Leifer faces 74 charges of child sex abuse that she supposedly committed while teaching in Melbourne.
Israeli-born Leifer left the school and returned to Israel, where she has lived since as accusations against her began surfacing in 2008. Later Leifer insisted she was mentally unfit to stand trial. Last year, an Israeli psychiatric panel concluded Leifer was lying about her mental condition, setting in motion the extradition.
Manny Waks, head of Voice against Child Sex Abuse, an organization representing Leifer’s victims, stated “this is an incredible day for justice!“We can now truly look forward to Leifer facing justice in Australia on the 74 charges she is facing,” he said.