JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by a former teacher wanted in Australia on charges of child sex abuse, saying her mental condition does not prevent her extradition.
Malka Leifer, a former educator who is accused of sexually abusing several former students, has been fighting extradition from Israel for six years. The protracted legal battle over her extradition to Australia for trial has strained relations between the two allies.
The judges unanimously rejected Leifer’s appeal against a Jerusalem court’s ruling in May that she was fit to stand trial, saying it was “putting an end to the saga that has been drawn out for many years” and that “now the time has come to decide on the request to extradite her person.”
Critics, including Leifer’s alleged victims, have accused Israeli authorities of dragging out the case for far too long.
Australia requested Leifer’s extradition in 2014 on 74 charges of child sex abuse and more than 60 Israeli court hearings have followed.
Three sisters — Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper — have accused Leifer of abusing them while they were students at a Melbourne ultra-Orthodox school. There are said to be other victims. As accusations surfaced in 2008, Israeli-born Leifer left the school and returned to Israel, where she has lived since.
The Associated Press does not usually identify alleged victims of sexual abuse, but the sisters have spoken publicly about their allegations against Leifer.
Manny Waks, head of Kol v’Oz, a Jewish group that combats child sex abuse and that has been representing the three sisters, said that “we hope and expect that we now see her swiftly sent back to Australia where she will face her accusers.”
An Australian court also ruled Wednesday that three Melbourne sisters — Erlich, Meyer and Sapper — are allowed to speak out about the alleged abuse.
Abuse survivors had said a Victorian law prevented them from speaking publicly with their real names without court permission.