Israeli Court Rules Accused Pedophile Malka Leifer Be Extradited to Australia

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled Malka Leifer is fit to stand trial. The former headmistress of a Jewish school is charged in Australia with 74 counts of rape and other sexual offences

Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz
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Malka Leifer is brought to a courtroom in Jerusalem. Leifer is wanted in Australia for 74 charges of sexual assault and the country's request for her extradition has been delayed for years.
Malka Leifer is brought to a courtroom in Jerusalem. Leifer is wanted in Australia for 74 charges of sexual assault and the country's request for her extradition has been delayed for years. Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI - AFP
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

An Israeli court decided Monday morning that accused pedophile Malka Leifer be extradited to Australia.

Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 after being indicted in Australia for 74 counts of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse of three sisters who were her students while she served as the headmistress of a Jewish school in Australia.

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The court said that the expert panel created to assess Leifer's mental state had concluded that she was clearly lying about her ability to stand trial. 

Leifer's accuser said in a video chat outside the court that justice had been served. "Leifer was free after 2016, and we thought we would have no voice," said one of them. "But for three years, we worked so hard and found our voice, and this is where we are today." Another sister said that "this isn't just for us. It's for every survivor who fought for justice, and it's for every survivor who refuses to be silent. This is a victory for everyone."

Early this month, the country's top court rejected an appeal by Leifer against her extradition, ruling that she was fit to stand trial and removing the final legal hurdles blocking her extradition process after years of stalled proceedings.

The Zionist Federation of Australia welcomed news of the court decision, calling it "long overdue." Jeremy Leibler, chairman of the group, said that "Leifer ought to accept this decision without further needless appeals and face her accusers in an Australian court."

A statement from the ZFA noted that Leifer's alleged victims have "seen Leifer fake mental health issues, they have seen bizarre court decisions, and they have seen an alleged criminal interference by a member of the Israeli cabinet." This is a reference to then-Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who police recommended indicting for bribery and breach of trust over the Leifer affair. 

A statement by Kol V'Oz, an advocacy group for survivors of child sexual assault, said that even Leifer and the school where she taught "could not have foreseen the extent to which certain ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Israel and around the world would go to protect an accused pedophile and how the failures of the Israeli justice system would help them in their quest for an alleged pedophile to avoid justice."

Leifer was located by police in 2014 and has since claimed that she is mentally unfit to stand trial, and in doing so, halted her extradition process.

During the lengthy legal process in which Leifer's lawyers argued that she was unfit to stand trial, she was deemed mentally unwell for some time and released from custody, angering Australian officials and much of that country's public. 

Police rearrested her after being tipped off by private investigators for Jewish Community Watch, an advocacy group for Jewish survivors of child sexual assault, who caught her on videotape appearing stable and interacting normally with neighbors and shopkeepers.

Judy Maltz contributed to this report.

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