Leifer extradited to Australia after six years of legal battles

Leifer is wanted on 74 counts of sexual abuse and rape of minors.

Malka Leifer
After six years of legal wrangling and dozens of court hearings, alleged sex offender Malka Leifer was extradited to Australia early Monday morning, just hours before the closure of Israel’s skies due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She was flying to Australia via Frankfurt and was expected to arrive in Australia later on Monday.
Leifer, who is wanted on 74 counts of sexual abuse and rape of minors, has claimed mental illness since extradition proceedings were initiated in 2014. Last year, the Jerusalem District Court ruled she was fit for trial and then ordered her extradition.
The Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, rejected all of Leifer’s appeals.
Leifer fled from Australia to Israel in 2008 after allegations of sexual abuse surfaced against her. An extradition request was only made in 2012, and extradition proceedings in Israel began in 2014.
After being arrested that year, she claimed mental illness to avoid extradition to Australia. The claim was eventually accepted by the Jerusalem district psychiatrist and the court, and legal proceedings against her were dropped.
But in 2018, Leifer was rearrested on suspicion of feigning mental illness to avoid extradition, and legal proceedings restarted.
A spokesman for Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter said the government “does not comment on logistics involving extradition arrangements against individuals until the extradition process has been concluded.”
Nick Kaufman, Leifer’s defense counsel, confirmed that she was extradited on Monday morning. A spokeswoman for the Prisons Service confirmed her extradition.
Photos published by Israel’s Ynet news site showed what appeared to be prison officials escorting Leifer, who was dressed in civilian clothing, aboard an aircraft at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Israeli authorities had been expected to ensure “maximum respect for Leifer’s dignity” until she left Israel, Kaufman said.
“This clearly did not happen, given the fact that photographs of her being led in handcuffs and leg cuffs were leaked to the press,” he said.
Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler on Monday morning said: “For too many survivors of child sex abuse, justice is denied. But now, 12 long years after she fled Australia, Leifer is on her way back to face her accusers in court.”
“That Leifer was allowed to escape justice for so long was a travesty,” he said. “While it’s a relief that Israel’s justice system has finally prevailed, the time and process that resulted in these delays are completely unacceptable.”
Reuters contributed to this article.