The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by Malka Leifer against her extradition to Australia, where she is wanted on 74 counts of sexual abuse.
The decision brings the six-year legal saga very close to its denouement and means extradition is almost certain.
Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn (Blue and White) must sign off on Leifer’s extradition, which he said he would do swiftly now that the court has rejected her appeal.
Leifer can appeal Nissenkorn’s decision to the High Court of Justice, but the justices have been unreceptive to her legal team’s claims.
Commenting on the length of the extradition proceedings against Leifer, Supreme Court Justice Anat Baron said: “There is no process that the appellant did not take and not claim she skipped over” in her efforts to avoid extradition.
“It should be known that anyone who seeks to escape justice will not find a city of refuge in Israel,” she wrote in the decision.
Following the court’s decision, Nissenkorn tweeted: “After many long and tortuous years, the time has come to do justice for Leifer’s victims. I intend to sign the extradition order without delay.”
Supreme Court Justice Yitzhak Amit, who authored the decision, wrote that he saw no merits in the claims made by Leifer’s lawyers.
Despite claims by her defense lawyers that the sexual acts she allegedly committed against her victims were not explicitly mentioned in the Israel-Australia extradition treaty, it was the clear intent of the authors of the treaty to include all types of sexual acts when seeking the extradition of someone accused of abusing their authority over a dependent for sexual gratification, he wrote.
Amit also rejected Leifer’s argument that since Israeli law requires an alleged victim to prove that there was abuse of a position of authority to carry out the sexual acts over a dependent, and that Australian law assumes automatically that a teacher engaged in sexual activity with a pupil is abusing that position of authority, the extradition treaty does not apply to Leifer.
Leifer’s lawyers have argued that the sexual acts that her victims allege she committed were done with consent, although her alleged victims strongly reject this claim.
Amit rejected this argument. The relevant laws in the countries signatory to the extradition treaty did not need to be exactly the same, he wrote, adding that as long as the foundations of those laws were the same, the treaty is applicable.
The Magen organization, which fights sexual abuse in the Jewish community, helped bring to light Leifer’s fraudulent claims of mental incapacity for extradition.
“After so many long years, the justice system of the State of Israel has validated what we have been arguing for so long: Malka Leifer is mentally fit to be extradited and stand trial for her alleged crimes,” it said in a press release.
“[Alleged victims] Dassi, Nicole and Ely have become beacons of strength to victims around the world, sending a message that justice is possible and worth fighting for,” Magen said. “We are grateful for their courage and strength in the face of tremendous pressure and odds, and we are so happy that they will finally have their chance to face Malka Leifer in court.”
Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said: “The arc of history has proven painfully long, but it did bend irresistibly toward justice. 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.”
“Dassi, Nicole and Elly have been incredibly strong through these many years,” he said. “Their ordeal is not yet over, but we have come one giant step forward. Finally, it is time to bring Leifer back.”