Israel extradites woman wanted for sex crimes to Australia

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JERUSALEM — Israeli authorities on Monday extradited a woman wanted on 74 charges of child sex abuse in Australia following a six-year legal battle that strained relations between the two governments, her attorney confirmed.

Malka Leifer, a former teacher accused of sexually abusing several former students at a Jewish school in Melbourne, had 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.

Israeli media photographed Leifer boarding a plane at Ben Gurion Airport early Monday. In December, the Supreme Court rejected a final appeal against her extradition, and Israel’s justice minister signed the order to send her to Australia.

Leifer faces 74 charges of child sex abuse that she allegedly committed while teaching in Melbourne.

As accusations against her began surfacing in 2008, Israeli-born Leifer left the school and returned to Israel, where she has lived since.

Critics, including Leifer’s alleged victims, had accused Israeli authorities of dragging out the case for far too long, while Leifer claimed she was mentally unfit to stand trial.

Last year, an Israeli psychiatric panel determined Leifer was lying about her mental condition, setting in motion the extradition.

The Associated Press