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Israel extradites Malka Leifer, former teacher wanted on child sex abuse charges, to Australia

Monday, 25 January 2021 (16:35 IST)
Israel on Monday extradited Malka Leifer, a former teacher wanted on child sex abuse charges, to Australia after a six-year legal battle.

Leifer faces as many as 74 abuse charges that she allegedly committed while teaching in Melbourne.

She is accused of abusing three sisters during her time as headmistress of Elsternwick’s Adass Israel School between 2001 and 2008.

The Israeli-born teacher left Australia in 2008 when the accusations first began to surface.

She maintains her innocence and has been fighting her extradition since 2014.

One of her accusers took to Twitter on Monday to respond to the news.

Israeli media ran photographs of Leifer boarding a plane at Ben Gurion Airport early Monday.

Dave Sharma, a former Australian ambassador to Israel who is now a Liberal MP, tweeted the pictures of Leifer as she prepared to leave the country.

He said “justice was a step closer” for her alleged victims.

Leifer’s lawyer Nick Kaufman said Israeli authorities were expected to keep the transfer secret “to ensure maximum respect for Ms Leifer’s dignity until she left Israeli jurisdiction.”

“This clearly did not happen given the fact that photographs of her being led in handcuffs and legcuffs were leaked to the press,” he said.

Leifer’s extradition was hit by delays

Extradition proceedings stalled in 2016 when an Israeli court ruled she was mentally unfit to face trial.

Critics, including Leifer’s alleged victims, had accused Israeli authorities of dragging out the case for far too long, while Leifer claimed she was mentally unfit to stand trial.

But evidence later emerged she was lying about being catatonic and incapacitated by anxiety.

A private investigator filmed her shopping, using public transport and attending religious festivals.

In January 2020, a panel of psychiatrists concluded the 54-year-old was faking her mental illness to avoid extradition.

Israel’s District Court ruled she was mentally fit to be extradited six months later.

The country’s Supreme Court rejected her final appeal against the extradition in December.

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