Leifer on her way to Melbourne

January 25, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Malka Leifer has boarded a plane in Israel to fly to Germany on her way back to Melbourne where she faces 74 charges of child sexual abuse.

Malka Leifer boarding the plane at Ben Gurion Screenshot

Former Israeli ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer tweeted: “I admit that years ago, as Head of Asia-Pacific at Israel’s FM, and later as Ambassador to Canberra I was skeptical that Leifer would be extradited. But I was then unaware of the heroism and tenacity of @dassi_erlich, Ellie, and Nicole. I’ve never been happier to be so wrong”.

In Melbourne, a spokesperson for the Victorian Government told J-Wire: “Our position has always been clear – Malka Leifer needs to return to Victoria to face these very serious allegations.

Our thoughts are with the people who have continued to advocate for her return and we acknowledge how significant this next step is for them.

As this matter is before the courts it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

A spokesperson for Attorney-General Christian Porter said: “The Australian Government is aware of reports in Israel concerning the extradition of Malka Leifer.

The Australian Government does not comment on logistics involving extradition arrangements against individuals until the extradition process has concluded.
Victorian authorities are responsible for the physical return of Ms Leifer to Australia now that the legal extradition process in Israel has concluded and she has been found suitable for surrender to Australian authorities to face the charges against her.
Both the Attorney-General and Minister for Foreign Affairs have expressed their thanks to the Israel Government for its assistance and cooperation to bring this long-running process to a conclusion to allow for the extradition of Ms Leifer to Australia where she faces serious sexual assault allegations.”
Alex Rychin, co-CEO of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry commented: “We welcome the news from Israel that Malka Leifer is now en route to Australia following the completion of her extradition process after many years of delay and deception by Leifer that caused tremendous suffering to her victims. Listening to Leifer’s victims, it is apparent that nothing will remedy the harm caused to them but the delivery of justice, no matter how belated, is the very least these brave women deserve and that Israeli and Australian justice requires. We again commend the victims for their strength and dignity in the face of incomprehensible adversity and we hope that this dark chapter will soon come to a close.

The executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council Dr Colin Rubenstein said: “With an enormous sense of relief, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) welcomes the news that Malka Leifer is en route to Australia to face 74 counts of child sexual abuse.

Thirteen years after she was rushed out of Australia, Leifer, the former principal of Adass Israel Girls School, will return to face criminal charges.

“We hope the images of Malka Leifer being escorted onto a plane to Australia will bring some satisfaction to her many alleged victims,” Mark Leibler, AIJAC national chairman, said.

“Her alleged victims have endured so much for so long and we hope this news has brought them a renewed sense of relief and strength as their pursuit of justice continues.”

Leifer about to enter the plane      Screenshot

“We acknowledge the long-term commitment of those in the Israeli Government, including a personal reassurance from President Reuven Rivlin, in achieving this outcome, but most significantly, the essential role of the independent Israeli justice system which pursued Malka Leifer’s extradition for so many years, so doggedly,” Dr Colin Rubenstein, AIJAC executive director, said

This has been an extremely long journey, and while it is not over yet, progress today has been dramatically gratifying,” Dr Rubenstein concluded.

Liberal MP Dave Sharma was Australia’s ambassador to Israel during the legal fight to get Leifer extradited. He told J-Wire: “After 7 years and 74 court hearings,  today we are one step closer to justice with Malka Leifer departing Israel for Australia, where she will face our courts. A day that many feared would never come is here, and for that, the victims and advocates in this case deserve our deepest gratitude and respect. As the ambassador at the time who handed over the extradition request, in 2014, for me personally, this is the conclusion of unfinished business from my time in Israel, and deeply satisfying as a result.”

“This is surely a difficult, but important day for the three courageous sisters who have led the vanguard to ensure that Ms Leifer is brought to justice in Victoria,” said Zionism Victoria president, Yossi Goldfarb.

Mr Goldfarb noted that “… the Jewish community stands behind Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper as the focus shifts from the overly long extradition process to the forthcoming trial.”

“We have the utmost confidence that the Victorian judicial system will provide a fair trial of the very serious allegations against Ms Leifer and will provide her alleged victims-survivors with an opportunity to be heard. We look forward to the ultimate determination of this matter as soon as possible,” Mr Goldfarb concluded.

The Interim President of The Jewish Community Council of Victoria Frank Greenstein stated, “We are relieved that the Israeli Justice Minister Nissenkorn paved the way for Leifer’s to Australia.”

Judy Fetter, Executive Director JCCV, “applauds the strength, determination and resilience of Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper and clarifies that the JCCV stands firmly together with all victims of abuse in our community and across Victoria.”

The JCCV understands that such a high-profile case of sexual abuse may cause many in the community significant distress. Dr Michelle Meyer, JCCV Executive member and past CEO of TZEDK noted, “Leifer’s return to Melbourne may encourage disclosures of abuse from survivors, some for the first time in relation to this case. Others may disclose about an unrelated case.”

The JCCV encourages those who are directly affected by, whether you are a survivor of abuse or a family member, to seek counselling.

Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler welcomed the footage of Malka Leifer boarding the plane.

“This protracted saga to have Leifer extradited to return to Melbourne to face trial has, it seems, finally ended after over 60 hearings”, he said.

For too many survivors of child sex abuse, justice is denied. But now, 12 long years after she fled Australia, Leifer is on her way back to face her accusers in court,” said Mr Leibler. “That Leifer was allowed to escape justice for so long was a travesty”, he continued. “While it’s a relief that Israel’s justice system has finally prevailed, the time and process that resulted in these delays are completely unacceptable.”

That she is coming is largely due to the tireless efforts of Dassi Erlich and her sisters, as well as their support network”, he continued. “It is they who kept up the pressure and who never gave up. My thoughts are with them tonight, and with all survivors of sexual abuse.”

Federal Labor MP Josh Burns tweeted: “13 years after she fled Australia, Malka Leifer is finally on her way to face justice in a Victorian courtroom. This is a day many of us worried would never come. But it came because of three brave sisters who never stopped fighting for their day in court.”

Dave Sharma and Josh Burns have given substantial support to Leifer’s victims, sister Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapir.

Israel-based Manny Waks has attended most of the 70+ hearings in the battle to secure her extradition.

VoiCSA [Voice against Child Sexual Abuse] is thrilled to confirm that Malka Leifer has been handed over to Australian authorities and is en-route to Australia.

In a prepared statement Waks said: “This is an incredible day for justice!

So many people have been involved to ensure this day would finally arrive, led by the incredibly courageous sisters, Nicole Meyer, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper. Regrettably, many have also been involved in trying to ensure this day would never arrive – despite their significant efforts, they have failed.

We can now truly look forward to Leifer facing justice in Australia on the 74 charges she is facing.

VoiCSA will continue to provide updates to the media and the broader community as this new phase begins. It is important to note that the complainants, Nicole, Dassi and Elly will be restricted in what they can say about the case.

The first point of interest will be to see who is appointed to represent Leifer. Will her supporters continue to raise enormous sums of money towards her defence and will some of those funds come from the Adass Israel community in Melbourne? Alternatively, will she rely on a public defender that will be offered to her?

Next, will members of her family seek to travel to Australia and how will that even happen with Covid-19 restrictions? Will members of the Adass Israel community visit her in jail and seek to ensure her stay is as comfortable as possible?

We expect that Leifer’s return to Australia will impact many people. VoiCSA remains committed to helping anyone who may have been sexually abused by Leifer. In particular, we encourage those who may have been abused to seek professional counselling if needed and to consider making a statement to police at this time.

Israeli media reported she is flying to Germany on her way back to Australia. The flight took off shortly before the planned shutdown of Ben Gurion Airport was scheduled to commence due to control Coronavirus.

 

Comments

One Response to “Leifer on her way to Melbourne”
  1. Sam Tatarka says:

    And how appropriate that on this very day Grace Tame was named the Australian of the Year. Grace, whose abuser was a teacher fought for the right of victims/survivors to speak out as a survivor of Child Sexual Abuse
    Kol HaKavod

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