Israel’s Justice Minister has signed an extradition order to send former Melbourne school principal Malka Leifer back to Australia where she is wanted on 74 charges of child sex abuse.
Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn confirmed on Twitter that he had “now signed Malka Leifer’s extradition order to Australia” as it was Israel’s “moral responsibility” to extradite the accused paedophile.
It comes a day after Israel’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Ms Leifer against her extradition.
The former teacher’s lawyer, Nick Kaufman, said his client won’t launch any further appeal but would seek to serve her sentence in Israel if she is convicted in Australia.
“By then, we can only hope to deal with a new minister of justice who will adopt a different attitude to the basic principles of due process and look favourably on such a request,” Mr Kaufman said in a statement.
He accused the Justice Minister of not exercising discretion “in a considered manner” but acting “impetuously in a flagrant attempt to appeal to popular sentiment”.
Ms Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 when the allegations of child sexual abuse in Melbourne first emerged.
In a unanimous decision announced on Thursday morning (Australian time), Justices Baron, Isaac Amit, and Ofer Grosskopf wrote: “All who seeks to evade justice shall know that they will not find a city of refuge in Israel”.
“It appears that there was no proceeding that the appellant has not taken and that there was no claim that she missed, in an attempt to prevent her extradition,” the judges wrote.
The Supreme Court ruled the 52-year-old can be extradited to Australia, bringing an end to her six-year effort to avoid having to front court in Victoria over 74 charges of rape and child sex abuse.
The acts were allegedly committed during her time as the head of the Adass Israel School in Elsternwick, in Melbourne’s southeast.
The judges rejected her lawyers’ assertion that Ms Leifer should be allowed to serve her sentence in Israel given she was still a resident at the time of the alleged crimes.
EXTRADITION APPEAL HAS BEEN DENIED!!
A STAGGERING CONCLUSION TO 74 COURT HEARINGS!
Only one more step – Justice Minister Nissenkorn’s signature and Leifer is on the plane to Australia!!! #nomoreisraelicourtrooms
— Dassi Erlich #bringleiferback (@dassi_erlich) December 15, 2020
It is unclear when Ms Leifer will return to Australia but activist Manny Waks expects her extradition to take place in 60 days.
“An amazing day for justice!” he tweeted.
Dassi Erlich, one of three sisters who were allegedly abused by Ms Leifer, called it a “staggering conclusion to 74 court hearings”.
“We want to see Malka Leifer in an Australian courtroom, we want to face her,” she told 9News.