Malka Leifer, the disgraced former Australian educator accused of dozens of counts of child sex abuse, was extradited from Israel back to Australia Monday morning, hours before Israel imposes a near-total travel ban to and from the country.
In December, then-Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn signed off on Leifer’s expulsion order, removing the last barrier to her extradition to Australia.
The Supreme Court repeatedly rejected appeals by Leifer, upholding lower court decisions clearing the way for her extradition to Australia to face 74 charges of child sex abuse.
Allegations first surfaced against Leifer in 2008, while she was serving as principal at a haredi school in Melbourne.
Before authorities could arrest her, however, Leifer fled to Israel, moving to the town of Emmanuel.
Since 2014, Leifer has faced efforts to secure her extradition, but managed to stymie the extradition process with legal challenges, claiming that she was mentally unfit to stand trial.
While the claim was initially accepted by a court in 2016, private investigators later uncovered evidence showing Leifer had deceived the court, and that she was in fact capable of standing trial.
The lengthy delays in securing Leifer’s extradition strained ties between Israel and Australia, which repeatedly demanded Leifer’s immediate return to stand trial.
The Magen organization lauded Leifer’s extradition, while lamenting the lengthy legal process required.
“We are so happy that today, Malka Leifer has finally been extradited to Australia,” the group said in a statement Monday morning.
“It has taken over 70 hearings for Israel to rule on her extradition, but this important milestone in the victims’ quest for justice has finally arrived. We continue to stand by the courageous survivors and support them as they begin the next chapter through the Australian justice system.”
“As an organization and as a community, we must continue to take a stand and fight for victims of sexual abuse, that the state of Israel not be used as a safe haven for sex offenders, and that this gross manipulation of the justice system may never happen again.”