Malka Leifer’s extradition appeal fails

December 15, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The High Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that alleged sex offender Malka Leifer will be extradited to Australia to stand trial.

Malka Leifer, a former school principal, who is wanted on 74 charges of sexual abuse in Melbourne, Australia, is escorted into the Jerusalem District Court. Jerusalem, Jun 14, 2018. Photo by Hillel Maeir/TPS

This follows years of court proceedings in which Leifer’s legal team asserted that she was mentally unfit.

Member of Knesset Sharren Haskel responded to the verdict on Twitter, “Israel is not a safe haven for pedophiles. This is an important message that the High Court of Justice is expressing today when they ruled that Malka Leifer will be extradited. After six long years in which her victims shouted for justice, today justice has finally been done and Malka Leifer will pay for raping her students.”

A psychiatric panel in January decided that the alleged sex offender, who escaped to Israel from Australia, is mentally fit to stand trial and has been feigning mental illness.

Former Health Minister Yaakov Litzman was embroiled in the controversy when the police exposed his aid to have Leifer kept in Israel and declared unfit to stand trial.

Leifer, a former Ultra-Orthodox girls’ school principal, is charged in Australia with 74 cases of child abuse. She fled to Israel in 2008 following allegations that she had sexually abused students at the Adass Yisroel school in Melbourne.

Australia’s Attorney-General Christian Porter said: “The decision of the Israel Supreme Court, dismissing Ms Leifer’s appeal is welcome news, particularly for alleged victims in Australia.

The Australian Government is grateful to Israeli authorities for representing the interests of Australia in the proceedings and I note and thank Israel’s Justice Minister, Avi Nissenkorn, for his public commitment to sign the extradition order without delay, following the decision of the Israel Supreme Court that Ms Leifer can be extradited.

The allegations against Ms Leifer are very serious and the Australian Government remains strongly committed to ensuring that justice is served in this case, so that Ms Leifer is extradited to Australia in order to stand trial on the 74 counts of child sexual abuse against her.

I travelled to Israel last year to make that case to Israel’s Attorney-General.

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.  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.

I will refrain from any further comment at this time, other than to repeat my thanks for the work of Israeli authorities in advancing this matter to its current stage.

Dave Sharma

Federal Liberal MP for Wentworth Dave Sharma was formerly the Australian ambassador to Israel. He said: “I am immensely pleased that Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled conclusively in favour of Ms Malka Leifer’s eligibility for extradition to Australia.

In 2013, 74 charges of sexual assault were filed against Ms Leifer, in connection with her time at Adass School in Melbourne. In 2014, Australia made a formal request to Israel for extradition of Ms Leifer.

I remember this well, as I was Australia’s Ambassador to Israel at the time. I formally conveyed the extradition request.

The fact that it has taken over five years and upwards of sixty court hearings to reach this point has been a source of considerable frustration for Australia, and of considerable anguish for the victims.

But we have finally reached a point of justice, and the patience and perseverance of all involved in this case has been rewarded.

I look forward to Israel’s Attorney General signing orders for Ms Leifer’s extradition shortly, and to her return to Australia where she will finally face justice for her acts.

This is a day of great relief for Ms Leifer’s victims, for the Australian Jewish community, and for all who stand on the side of justice.

I thank Israel’s Justice Ministry for their determination and commitment to see justice done in this case.”Like the rest of the Australian Jewish community, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) is pleased that Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal against the decision to extradite former school principal, Malka Leifer, to face 74 counts of child sexual assault in Melbourne,” AIJAC executive director Dr Colin Rubenstein said.

The alleged victims Nicole Meyer, Ellie Sapper, Dassi Erlich

“This is a just and fair decision, and we urge Israel’s Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn to act now to complete the final stages of her extradition.

“Leifer’s alleged victims have waited a long time for their day in court. We hope this latest decision provides them with hope that their case will finally be heard.”

The Zionist Federation of Australia and Zionism Victoria welcomes the decision of Israel’s High Court to reject Malka Leifer’s appeal.

ZFA President Jeremy Leibler said, “The arc of history has proven painfully long, but it did bend irresistibly toward justice. What has strengthened the arm of the survivors of Leifer’s alleged abuse – indeed, all survivors of sexual abuse – is the simple principle that those credibly accused of such heinous crimes must face their accusers in court. Dassi, Nicole and Elly have been incredibly strong through these many years. Their ordeal is not yet over, but we have come one giant step forward. Finally, it is time to bring Leifer back.”

Mr Leibler continued, “Although the final outcome is just, the delays and Leifer’s manipulation of the Israeli legal system have been completely unacceptable. The survivors of the abuse should never have had to wait this long.”

Zionism Victoria President Yossi Goldfarb added: “Leifer’s legal team insultingly attempted to cast aspersions on the Victorian judicial system. The Victorian Jewish community has never had any doubt about the ability of Victoria’s courts to try Leifer fairly, and we are pleased Israel’s High Court justices recognised this as the furphy it was.”

Dassi Erlich, one of the three sisters allegedly abused when they attended the Addas Yisroel School in Melbourne where Leifer was principal posted on her Facebook: “Only one more step – Justice Minister Nissenkorn’s signature and Leifer is on the plane to Australia!!! ”

But J-Wire understands that Leifer is able to request the Minister not to sign the extradition order.  If the order is signed, there are appeal mechanisms, to the Israeli High Court of Justice that can be considered by Ms Leifer’s legal team.

In Victoria, The Jewish Community Council of Victoria commented: “The JCCV welcomes the news that after protracted delays, the Israeli Supreme Court has finally supported the extradition of Malka Leifer to face 74 counts of child sexual abuse in Melbourne.

We applaud the strength, determination and resilience of Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper and stand together with all victims of child abuse. The time for Israeli Justice Minister Nissenkorn to sign Leifer’s extradition is now!”

“Despite the setbacks over the years which at times made it seem as though Leifer would never be brought to justice, Dassi, Elly and Nicole have shown incredible courage and it is through their determination that we have finally reached this milestone”.

“This has been a battle which these sisters should never have had to fight. They have done so with grace and dignity at all times and their actions have undoubtedly saved many other children from the horrors which they experienced. They are heroes in every sense of the word”.

CEO of Voice Against Child Sexual Abuse Manny Waks has been monitoring the case in Jerusalem attending many of the hearings.

He said: “On behalf of VoiCSA and on a personal level, I am delighted at this outcome and look forward to the day, in the not too distant future, when these amazing sisters finally face their alleged abuser in an Australian courtroom”.

“I am also mindful that there are other alleged victims of Leifer who may be impacted by her forthcoming return to Australia and take the opportunity to encourage other women who may have been sexually abused by Leifer while attending the Adass Israel School to consider contacting VoiCSA, other support organisations and/or the local police at this time”.

J-Wire/TPS

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