Campaigners against child sexual abuse have called for a major review of how a Jewish former headteacher in Australia charged with 74 counts of indecent assault and rape had evaded extradition for more than a decade.
It follows a decision this week from the Supreme Court of Israel rejecting an appeal from Malka Leifer not to be expedited.
Leifer fled to Israel from Australia in 2008 just hours before she was due to be arrested for sexually assaulting students at her Orthodox Adass Israel girls’ school.
For more than a decade her lawyers have delayed extradition proceedings with arguments over psychiatric assessments, but earlier this year she was finally found to have been “faking” the mental illness she claimed to have.
Manny Waks, who was himself sexually abused as a child in an Australian yeshiva, said Leifer had “taken Israeli justice for a ride” for years, and that the Supreme Court’s unanimous rejection of her appeal this week still left room for her to appeal.
“It means that Leifer can continue to face the extradition trial,” read a statement from the Kol v’Oz organisation he now heads from Israel.
“Currently we are awaiting the District Court decision on 21 September regarding whether she will be extradited based on the facts of the case. Leifer will still have opportunities for appeal.”
Waks said: “It has been clear to practically everyone following this case, including countless experts, that Leifer has taken the Israeli judicial system for a major ride.
“In their ruling, even the judges said that proceedings had dragged out ‘much beyond what is reasonable’. With Leifer’s legal avenues running out, we hope and expect that we now see her swiftly sent back to Australia where she will face her accusers.
“Once that has occurred, a full review needs to take place in Israel to find out why this particular case has dragged out so long and whether allegations of political interference are substantiated.”