Israel court allows extradition of sex abuse suspect to Australia

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Jerusalem (AFP) – Israel’s highest court Tuesday rejected an appeal against extradition to Australia of Malka Leifer, a former Jewish ultra-Orthodox school principal accused of sexual abuse of many of her pupils there.

“With the issuance of our judgment, all the arguments are closed and the declaration of extradition takes final effect,” said the Supreme Court ruling, published by the justice ministry.

Leifer is accused of child sex abuse while she was a teacher and principal at an ultra-Orthodox school in Melbourne, where she had emigrated from her native Israel.

According to Australian media, she faces 74 counts of child sex abuse against girls.

After allegations against her surfaced in Australia in 2008, Leifer and her family left for Israel and moved to the Emmanuel settlement in the occupied West Bank.

The court noted the years in which Australia’s extradition request had been bogged down in Israeli courts.

“More than six years have passed since a request was filed in the Jerusalem district court to declare the appellant extradited to Australia,” it said in its Hebrew-language ruling.

Since then, it continued, “there is no proceeding that the appellant has not taken” to prevent her extradition.

Extradition agreements signed by Israel “must be respected and anyone seeking to flee justice will not find sanctuary in Israel,” it said.