The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by alleged child sex offender Malka Leifer, clearing the way for her to be extradited to Australia.
Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn will now need to sign off on her extradition before she is put on a plane to face a Victorian court.
Leifer is wanted in Australia for 74 charges of child rape and sexual abuse stemming from her time as principal at Melbourne’s Orthodox Addas Israel School.
Mr Nissenkorn on Tuesday said he welcomed the Supreme Court ruling to reject the appeal heard on December 3.
“After many long and torturous years, the time has come to do justice to Leifer’s victims. I intend to sign the extradition order without delay,” Mr Nissenkorn said on Twitter.
Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter thanked Mr Nissenkorn for his public commitment and said the Australia government remained “strongly committed to ensuring that justice is served in this case”.
While there were more steps to be taken in Israel, Mr Porter said “this is a significant milestone which should provide alleged victims some hope that this part of the process to bring Ms Leifer to justice in Australia is edging closer to a conclusion”.
The denied appeal follows 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.
Three Melbourne sisters – Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper –who filed police reports in 2011 were pleased with the news.
“It is incredible to reach this point after so many years,” Ms Erlich told AAP.
“A decision that we dreamed of happening and never gave up hope. We await the justice minister’s signature and facing Malka Leifer in court in Australia.”
Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler welcomed Mr Nissenkorn’s announcement he would sign the extradition order as soon as possible.
“The arc of history has proven painfully long but it did bend irresistibly toward justice,” he told AAP.
What has strengthened the arm of the survivors of Leifer’s alleged abuse – indeed, all survivors of sexual abuse – is the simple principle that those credibly accused of such heinous crimes must face their accusers in court.”
The extradition case against Leifer faced many delays over the years as her lawyers claimed she was mentally unfit to face trial.
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.
Multiple psychiatric panels had been established by the court, demanded by the defence, to assess Leifer’s mental fitness, each time adding more months to the legal process.
Israel’s deputy health minister, Yaakov Litzman, was questioned by police in February 2019 on the basis of allegedly pressuring psychiatrists to deem Leifer unfit in their medical examinations.
Court-appointed psychiatric panels continued to find Leifer fit to face justice and in May the court ruled accordingly, marking the beginning of the extradition case.