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Former teacher extradited from Israel lands in Australia

Randy Mancini 58 Jan 27

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A former Israeli teacher arrived on Wednesday in the Australian city of Melbourne where she faces charges of child sex abuse.

Israeli authorities on Monday extradited Malka Leifer after a six-year legal battle that had strained relations between the two governments and antagonized Australia’s Jewish community.

The 54-year-old Leifer faces 74 charges of child sex abuse in Australia. Media reported that she flew through airports in Frankfurt, Germany, and Singapore.

She was escorted by Victoria state police as she was taken into 14 days quarantine. She will appear in a Melbourne court on Thursday via video.

Australia’s Attorney-General Christian Porter noted her arrival marked the end of a long and complicated legal battle.

“The arrival of Ms Leifer in Australia will bring relief to alleged victims who have waited many years for this moment,” Porter said in a statement.

“It is now important that the legal processes are allowed to proceed in Victoria without commentary which could affect that process,” he added.

Leifer is accused of sexually abusing several former students at a Jewish school in Melbourne and had been fighting extradition since 2014. She maintains her innocence.

The protracted court case and repeated delays over her extradition had drawn criticism from Australian officials as well as the country’s Jewish leaders.

Three sisters — Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper — have accused Leifer of abusing them while they were students at the ultra-Orthodox school. Authorities say there are other victims. The Associated Press does not usually identify alleged victims of sexual abuse, but the sisters have spoken publicly about their allegations against Leifer.

As accusations against her began surfacing in 2008, the Israeli-born Leifer left the school and returned to Israel, where she has lived since. Critics, including Leifer’s accusers, had accused Israeli authorities of dragging out the case for far too long, while Leifer claimed she was mentally unfit to stand trial.