Alleged child abuser Malka Leifer has landed back in Australia and is expected to face a Melbourne court after being extradited from Israel.
Leifer arrived at Melbourne airport about 9pm on Wednesday following a decade-long effort by accusers to have her brought back from the country she moved to in 2008 amid child abuse accusations.
The former school principal, who had fought extradition since Victoria police made the application in 2014, is expected to face court in Australia for the first time on Thursday. She will appear remotely as she starts 14 days in mandatory coronavirus quarantine.
It took more than 70 hearings over six years for Israel’s supreme court to find Leifer had been feigning mental illness and was fit to be extradited.
She was rushed out of Israel before the main airport in the country was due to be shut on Tuesday as part of tightening coronavirus restrictions.
Leifer faces 74 counts of child sexual abuse relating to her time as principal of the Adass Israel ultra-Orthodox Jewish girls school in Melbourne.
Australia’s attorney general, Christian Porter, said her arrival in Melbourne on Wednesday night “finally concluded the long-running process to see Ms Leifer returned to Australia to face serious sexual assault charges”.
“These are extremely serious charges and now that Ms Leifer has been extradited to Australia those charges can be tested by the courts in Victoria,” Porter said in a statement.
“Ms Leifer’s return to Australia marks the end of a very long and complicated extradition. I thank the Israeli government for its cooperation and assistance during the course of this process.”
The attorney general said Leifer’s arrival would “bring relief to alleged victims who have waited many years for this moment”. Porter said the legal process should now be allowed to proceed in Victoria “without commentary which could affect that process”.
Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, said those who had campaigned to have the charges against Leifer heard in Australia had “shown enormous patience and resolve and my thoughts are with them as we reach a critical step in this legal process”.
Leifer’s lawyer, Nick Kaufman, earlier this week complained that Israeli authorities were expected to keep the transfer secret “to ensure maximum respect for Ms Leifer’s dignity until she left Israeli jurisdiction”.
He added: “This clearly did not happen given the fact that photographs of her being led in handcuffs and legcuffs were leaked to the press.”