Israel’s justice minister signed an extradition order for Malka Leifer, supporting the government in a decade of efforts by the alleged child molester’s accusers to bring her back to Melbourne.
“I have now signed the order for Malka Leifer’s extradition to Australia,” Avi Nissenkorn wrote on Twitter. “After many years, after a shameful attempt to present himself as mentally ill, and in light of the Supreme Court ruling, it is our moral duty to allow Leifer to stand trial.”
The announcement came just a day after Israel’s Supreme Court dismissed Leifer’s appeal to block his extradition, ending a legal saga that has strained relations between Israel and Australia.
Nissenkorn had previously said he would sign the order “without delay”. Israel has been under pressure to show that it is taking the case seriously after repeated court postponements, including more than 70 hearings, and allegations of interference at the highest levels of government.
The order means Leifer could be back in Australia within the next two months. Although she can challenge the decision in court, all of her previous legal challenges have failed.
One of Leifer’s top lawyers said she would not seek to block the extradition decision.
“Ms. Leifer will not seek judicial review of this administrative act,” Nick Kaufman said in a statement.
However, he criticized the Minister of Justice for his “hasty signing”.
“The Minister of Justice was supposed to exercise his discretion in a thoughtful manner after hearing defense submissions and not impetuously in a blatant attempt to appeal to popular sentiment,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman added that his client, if convicted in Australia, would seek to serve a prison sentence in Israel.
Leifer, 52 ans, is accused of sexually assaulting students while she was principal of the ultra-Orthodox Adass Israel school in south-east Melbourne. His legal team denied the charges.
The Israeli citizen was charged with faking mental illness to avoid extradition. Earlier this year, Israel’s Supreme Court upheld a district court ruling that she was fit to stand trial.
Meanwhile, former health minister Ya’acov Litzman, who comes from the same sect of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, has been accused of obstructing the case. Litzman has denied any wrongdoing.
After the allegations were first made against Leifer in Australia, she traveled to Israel in 2008. Australian police filed an extradition request in 2014.
On Tuesday, after learning that Israel’s Supreme Court had dismissed Leifer’s appeal, Australia’s Attorney General Christian Porter said the government remained “firmly committed to ensuring justice in this case. “.
While there was more action to be taken in Israel, Porter said that “this is an important step, which should give the alleged victims hope that this part of the process of bringing Ms Leifer to justice in Australia will end. brings closer to a conclusion ”.