News Six years on, Israeli court rules Malka Leifer must return to Australia to face child sex abuse charges

Six years on, Israeli court rules Malka Leifer must return to Australia to face child sex abuse charges

Malka Leifer, in February 2018, is running out of options after the 71st extradition hearing. Photo: Getty
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The decision to extradite accused paedophile Malka Leifer to Australia to face 74 child sex abuse charges has been hailed as a victory for survivors.

Dassi Erlich, one of three Australian sisters allegedly subjected to repeated abuse by their former principal, said she was “exhaling years of holding our breath” following Monday’s Jerusalem District Court decision.

She along with siblings Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper have been involved in a six-year legal battle to see Mrs Leifer face the 74 charges of rape and child abuse in Australia.

Sisters Elly Sapper, Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer, who are victims of Malka Leifer, in Melbourne in May. Photo: AAP

The court’s extradition ruling was handed down in the 71st hearing in the long-running extradition case.

“A victory for justice!! A victory for all survivors!!” Ms Erlich wrote on Twitter.

She continued: “We truly value every person standing with us in our refusal to remain silent! Today our hearts are smiling!”

Mrs Leifer’s lawyers, however, still have an opportunity to appeal in Israel’s Supreme Court which earlier this month rejected an appeal heard in July regarding the accused’s mental fitness to stand trial.

The former headmistress of Melbourne’s Adass Israel School, Mrs Leifer fled to Israel after allegations arose in 2008.

Child sexual abuse activist Manny Waks said it has been “Israel’s shame” that the process had so far taken more than a decade.

Manny Waks said Monday’s decision was a ‘‘just outcome’’. Photo: Getty

“Today is a great day for justice. It is a day which at times seemed like it would never arrive, but we are thrilled that it is finally here,” Mr Waks said.

“We hope and trust that any remaining processes will be dealt with quickly so that we may see Leifer back in Australia in 2020.”

Mr Waks said he saw first-hand “how unfair the Israeli judicial process has been and the avoidable toll this has taken on Leifer’s alleged victims”.

He urged the “many more alleged victims of Leifer” to “now come forward”.

Dr Cathy Kezelman from the Blue Knot Foundation said it was time Mrs Leifer came home to face the charges.

“For her victims to stand up and courageously speak of the unconscionable crimes against them as children is enormously difficult,” Dr Kezelman said.

“To have to withstand a rollercoaster of court machinations and inexplicable delays for a chance at justice is torturous.

“When children are repeatedly sexually abused, the impact of their trauma can be damaging. Even in the fighting for the right for justice, the trauma of that fight is chilling.”