Israel signs extradition order in Australia sex-crime case

By Associated Press 17 December 2020, 12:00AM

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s justice minister on Wednesday said he has signed an extradition order to send a former teacher to Australia to face charges of child sex abuse.

Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn said that after a years-long legal saga, it was Israel’s “moral responsibility” to extradite Malka Leifer.

Nissenkorn signed the order a day after Israel’s Supreme Court rejected what appears to be Leifer’s final appeal.

Leifer, a former educator accused of sexually abusing several former students at a Jewish school in Melbourne, has been fighting extradition from Israel since 2014. Leifer maintains her innocence and the six-year legal battle surrounding her extradition has strained relations between Israel and Australia.

Nissenkorn did not announce an extradition date. But Manny Waks, an activist who has represented the victims, said he expected it to take place within 60 days.

“An amazing day for justice!” he tweeted.

Nick Kaufman, a lawyer for Leifer, accused the justice minister of acting hastily.

“The minister of justice was meant to exercise his discretion in a considered manner after hearing submissions from the defense and not impetuously in a flagrant attempt to appeal to popular sentiment,” he said in a statement.

Kaufman said Leifer would not appeal the decision, but would seek to serve her sentence in Israel if she is convicted in Australia.

“By then, we can only hope to deal with a new minister of justice who will adopt a different attitude to the basic principles of due process and look favorably on such a request,” Kaufman said.

By Associated Press 17 December 2020, 12:00AM

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