Malka Leifer, former Melbourne principal and accused child abuser, loses appeal against extradition from Israel to Australia
Israel's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by former Melbourne school principal Malka Leifer against a ruling to extradite her to Australia to face 74 charges of sexual abuse.Key points:
- Israel's Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn can now sign the extradition order to have her returned to Melbourne to face trial
- Mr Nissenkorn said he would sign the extradition order "without delay"
- Leifer's lawyers had argued against extradition to Australia on several grounds
It's the last time — after six years of legal battles — the former principal of Elsternwick's Adass Israel girls school can appeal to the Supreme Court to attempt to stop the extradition.
"Since the petition was filed, it appears that there is no proceeding that the appellant has not taken and that there is no claim that she missed, in an attempt to prevent her extradition," Supreme Court Judge Anat Baron ruled.
"As is well known, extradition agreements signed by the State of Israel, the purpose of which is international cooperation for the eradication of crime, must be respected, and anyone who seeks to escape himself will know by law that he will not find a city of refuge in Israel."
The country's Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn can now sign the extradition order to have her returned to Melbourne to face trial.
"I welcome the Supreme Court's ruling declaring extradite Malka Leifer to Australia," he wrote on Twitter.
"After long and torturous years, the time has come to do justice to Leifer's victims. I intend to sign the extradition order without delay."
That signature can also be subject to an administrative appeal.
Malka Leifer's alleged victims, three sisters who were her pupils, expressed relief at the judgement.
Watch Australian Story's two-part investigation into the Malka Leifer scandal from her alleged victims speaking out, to the undercover operation that revealed her alleged sham in Israel.Read more
"To understand that this point has finally been reached from the day we gave our police statements in 2011, it's really staggering," Nicole Meyer said.
"It's just huge because it is something we have been fighting for, for 74 court hearings and every single day in between."
Australia's Attorney-General Christian Porter, who discussed the case when he travelled to Israel last year, welcomed the decision.
"Although this latest development is a significant step forward — possibly the most positive steps thus far — in what has been a long process, there are still steps to be undertaken in Israel," he said.
"Nevertheless, this is a significant milestone which should provide alleged victims some hope that this part of the process to bring Ms Leifer to justice in Australia is edging closer to a conclusion."
Victoria Police sought Malka Leifer's extradition in 2014, but proceedings stalled two years later when an Israeli court ruled she was mentally unfit to face trial.
But when evidence emerged Malka Leifer was lying about being catatonic and incapacitated by anxiety, Ms Meyer and her sisters Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper began a public campaign called "Bring Leifer Back", asking for the extradition proceedings to recommence.
An organisation dedicated to stopping child abuse in the tight-knit orthodox community, Jewish Community Watch, commissioned a private investigator to secretly film Malka Leifer enjoying a normal life: shopping, travelling to Tel Aviv on public transport and attending Jewish religious festivals.
Their evidence triggered an Israeli police investigation and a recommendation Malka Leifer be charged for obstruction of justice.
She was put in jail on remand and extradition proceedings restarted in 2018, with fierce opposition from her top-shelf legal team and backers within her orthodox community.
Israel's deputy health minister Yaakov Litzman, from the same ultra-orthodox sect, was also accused of interfering by pressuring the state psychiatrist to change his assessment of Mrs Leifer's mental state to block her extradition.
He denied wrongdoing but police recommended he also be charged.