December 15, 2020
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia on Wednesday welcomed an Israeli Supreme Court decision to approve the extradition of a former school principal accused of sexually assaulting students at a Jewish school in Melbourne.
Malka Leifer, who lost her appeal against extradition on Tuesday, is wanted by Australian police on 74 sexual assault charges, including rape, involving girls at her former school.
“The decision of the Israel Supreme Court, dismissing Leifer’s appeal is welcome news, particularly for alleged victims in Australia,” Australia’s Attorney-General Christian Porter said in a statement.
Porter said the allegations against Leifer were “very serious” and Australia remained strongly committed to ensure justice was served in the case.
Leifer, who also holds Israeli citizenship, fled Australia in 2008 after the accusations surfaced. She has denied the allegations against her.
Australia has been pressing Israel to expedite Leifer’s case, and her alleged victims have criticised the lengthy Israeli judicial proceedings.
She fought her return to Australia, including with a submission of mental illness, dragging the case through Israeli courts since 2014.
“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,” Porter said.
Leifer can lodge another appeal with the Supreme Court against the extradition approval once it is given, but the court signalled on Tuesday it might not consider it.
(Reporting by Renju Jose; editing by Richard Pullin)