Rivlin to Australian PM Following Leifer Ruling: Israel Won't Allow Anyone to Evade Justice

Israeli court ruled Tuesday that Malka Leifer, accused of 74 counts of rape and sexual assault in Australia, is fit to stand trial and renewed extradition process

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Malka Leifer during a hearing at Jerusalem District Court, March 2018.
Malka Leifer during a hearing at Jerusalem District Court, March 2018.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke to Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia on Wednesday following the Jerusalem District Court's decision that accused pedophile Malka Leifer is fit to stand trial, according to a press release.

During the conversation, the president said, as he did on a visit to Australia in February, “The State of Israel will not allow anyone to use its institutions to evade justice.” He added that the Israeli courts had proved that on Tuesday.

The president informed Prime Minister Morrison that the extradition hearing is scheduled for July 20, and that there will be a right of appeal to the Supreme Court after the ruling. If and when the courts approve Leifer’s extradition, the matter will be brought to the Minister of Justice to sign the order.

The Australian prime minister thanked the president for his call and noted that it reflects the strong and warm relations between the countries. He added that the decision had been met with a real sense of relief in Australia, and particularly by the Jewish community.

Israel's President Reuven Rivlin and Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison pose for photos at the Parliament House in Canberra on February 26, 2020.
Israel's President Reuven Rivlin and Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison pose for photos at the Parliament House in Canberra on February 26, 2020. Credit: AFP

Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 after being indicted in Australia on 74 counts of rape and sexual assault. She was located by the Israel Police in 2014 and has since claimed that she is mentally unfit to stand trial, halting her extradition process.

Leifer is accused of sexually abusing three sisters who were her students while she served as the headmistress of a Jewish school in Australia. She is currently held in custody in Israel amid an ongoing extradition battle that has strained relations between the two countries.

Dassi Erlich, one of Leifer's victims, celebrated the ruling on Twitter on Tuesday, "Too many emotions to process!!! This is huge!" She wrote. "This abusive woman has been exploiting Israeli courts for 6 years! Intentionally creating obstacles, endless vexatious arguments - only lengthening our ongoing trauma!"

Years of delay in extradition proceedings slowly simmered into a diplomatic row between Israel and Australia. The perception that some in Israel's highest political echelon were protecting a known child abuser angered a frustrated local Jewish community and the general public in the country, which generally enjoyed warm ties with Israel.

Aaron Rabinowitz contributed to this report.