Former Melbourne school principal Malka Leifer is being extradited to Australia from Israel to face child sex abuse charges after a six-year legal battle.
Voice against child sexual abuse VoiCSA described the news as ‘‘an incredible day for justice’’.
VoiCSA CEO Manny Waks confirmed on Monday evening that Leifer, 54, was en route to Australia via Frankfurt having been handed over to Australian authorities after a court ruled she should be extradited to face charges.
The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday that Leifer left earlier in the day, just hours before the closure of Israel’s airports due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Israel’s Supreme Court approved her extradition order in December and Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn approved the order the following day.
In a tweet, Mr Nissenkorn wrote on Monday: “I promised that I would not hinder the extradition order, and that’s what I have done. Malka Leifer’s victims will finally earn an act of justice.”
One of her alleged victims, Dassi Erlich, also tweeted on Monday that “Leifer is on the way back to Australia”.
Leifer is wanted in Australia on 74 charges of child rape and sexual abuse stemming from her time as principal at Melbourne’s Orthodox Addas Israel School.
‘‘This is an incredible day for justice,’’ Mr Waks said.
‘‘So many people have been involved to ensure this day would finally arrive, led by the incredibly courageous sisters, Nicole Meyer, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper.
‘‘Regrettably, many have also been involved in trying to ensure this day would never arrive – despite their significant efforts, they have failed.
‘‘We can now truly look forward to Leifer facing justice in Australia on the 74 charges she is facing.’’
Wow, can't believe it! Testament to the amazing brave work of @dassi_erlich, Nicole & Ellie. Also to the incredible @mannywaks for his work over the years plus ABC producer Fouad Abu Gosh who sat through 6 yrs of court hearings & made sure this stayed in the headlines! #Leifer https://t.co/CO9D8oOXOO
— Sophie McNeill (@Sophiemcneill) January 25, 2021
Mr Waks said the first point of interest will be to see who is appointed to represent Leifer, and whether her supporters would contribute to her defence.
Secondly, he said, is whether family members seek to travel to Australia under Australia’s strict border policies and COVID-19 restrictions.
He called on the the Adass community, and its head rabbi Shlomo Kohn, to immediately establish a process to assist those within their community who may need support at this time.
‘‘We expect that Leifer’s return to Australia will impact many people,’’ Mr Waks said.
He said “VoiCSA remains committed to helping anyone who may have been sexually abused’’ and encouraged them to seek professional counselling and to consider making a statement to police.
Photos here ⬇️ of Malka Leifer boarding a plane in Israel, for extradition to Australia.
Welcome news for all who care about justice in this case. https://t.co/Nh747uAFu8
— Dave Sharma (@DaveSharma) January 25, 2021
Israel’s Supreme Court approved Leifer’s extradition order in December and Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn approved the order the following day.
Her final failed appeal followed 74 hearings in Israeli courts, which have been drawn out on the basis of Leifer claiming mental illness.
Leifer fled Australia to Israel in 2008 when the allegations arose, using a plane ticket allegedly paid for by the Addas School.
Leifer was first arrested in Israel in 2014, and placed under house arrest, only to be let free again on the condition she undertook psychiatric assessments.
Following an independent undercover investigation that proved she was feigning mental illness and going about her life as normal, Leifer was arrested again in 2018.
13 years after she fled Australia, Malka Leifer is finally on her way to face justice in a Victorian courtroom.
This is a day many of us worried would never come. But it came because of three brave sisters who never stopped fighting for their day in court. https://t.co/q8fxNslcLP
— Josh Burns (@joshburnsmp) January 25, 2021
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