Israeli minister accused of trying to prevent Malka Leifer extradition
7 August 2019
Israeli police have recommended deputy health minister Yaakov Litzman be charged for allegedly trying to prevent former Melbourne school principal Malka Leifer from being extradited to Australia to face child sex abuse charges. The ultra-Orthodox politician is accused of pressuring psychiatrists to alter the conclusions of their reports about Ms Leifer so a court would find her mentally unfit to stand trial, The Times of Israel reports.
Ms Leifer, who was the head of Melbourne’s ultra orthodox Adass Israel school, faces 74 charges of sexual assault of female students.
She returned to Israel in 2008 after the sex offence allegations emerged. The Israeli police said in a statement they had enough evidence to charge Mr Litzman for tampering with witnesses.
“With the end of this investigation the Israeli police’s position is that there is enough alleged evidence against Deputy Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman of offences of fraud, breach of trust, and impeachment in testimony in the (Malka Leifer) extradition case,” the statement said.
The investigation allegedly found that psychiatrists feared they would be fired if they did not follow the orders of Mr Litzman, who is also chairman of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party.
“I’m just a bureaucrat. A senior minister is sitting in front of me (making requests). I know my place and I know his place and what is expected of me,” one of the psychiatrists allegedly told police.
The Times said it would now be up to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to determine whether or not to indict Mr Litzman.
Mr Litzman is also accused of bribery and fraud on separate matters. In a statement his office said he had worked “in favour of the citizens of Israel in total transparency and according to the law”.
“We are sure without a doubt that after a close examination it will be revealed that his actions were flawless.”
Manny Waks, the director of Kol V’oz, an NGO preventing child sex abuse in the Jewish community in Australia, on Wednesday called for Mr Litzman to resign and said the case had harmed Israel’s international reputation.
“We stand steadfastly behind Leifer’s courageous alleged victims and hope and expect that justice will prevail.”
Ms Leifer’s case, which has gone through more than 50 hearings, is still being considered by a Jerusalem court.
Originally published at The Australian.