Malka Leifer led by prison service officers in Jerusalem court
Malka Leifer led by prison service officers in Jerusalem court Flash 90

An Israeli court ruled Tuesday that an Australian-Israeli teacher accused of child sex abuse in Melbourne, Australia was mentally fit to stand trial, bringing her closer to extradition after years of legal

Judge Chana Lomp of the Jerusalem district court said of Malka Leifer that she had "decided to accept the expert panel's opinion, the defendant is fit to stand trial".

Lomp said she would set a date for the renewal of the extradition process.

Leifer, who was not in court on Tuesday, is accused of child sex abuse while she was a teacher and principal at a Jewish school in Melbourne, where she had emigrated to from her native Israel.

According to Australian media, Leifer is facing 74 counts of child sex abuse, but her lawyers say there were only "three actual complaints."

After allegations surfaced against her in 2008, Leifer and her family left for Israel and have been living in the town of Emmanuel in Samaria.

A previous extradition attempt between 2014 and 2016 failed after Leifer was hospitalized in mental institutions and expert opinions found she was not fit to stand trial.

But undercover private investigators later filmed Leifer shopping and depositing a check at a bank.

This prompted Israeli authorities to launch a probe into whether she was faking mental illness to avoid extradition, leading to her arrest in February 2018.

Rabbi David Stav, Chair of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, who has met with the three Australian sisters championing the case responded to the court's decision Tuesday saying, “I applaud the court for reaching this decision and indeed it’s one that should have been reached years ago. We should never witness a situation where alleged criminals of this type who have caused so much harm and damage to children should avoid facing swift justice.”