By: Arye Green
The police on Tuesday announced its recommendation to indict Deputy Health Minister Member of Knesset (MK) Yaakov Litzman on accounts of aiding an alleged sex offender, Malka Leifer, and preventing the closure of a food business despite decisions to shut it down for sanitary reasons.
The police said it completed its investigation into the two separate incidents. In its announcement, the police said it had found sufficient evidence and has passed the material on to the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office for them to decide whether or not to proceed and prosecute Litzman.
The first case the police investigated involves Malka Leifer, an Australian and former Ultra-Orthodox girls’ school principal, who is charged in her country with dozens of cases of child abuse. Leifer fled from Australia to Israel in 2008 following allegations that she had sexually abused her students at the Adass Yisroel school in Melbourne on 74 different occasions.
Litzman is suspected of attempting to manipulate Leifer’s psychiatric evaluation to deem her mentally unfit to be extradited to Australia, where she could stand trial.
Litzman allegedly used his clout as Deputy Health Minister and met with psychiatrists who work in the Health Ministry to convince them to change their evaluation according to his wishes.
The second case related to a food business owned by Litzman’s close associate. The authorities ordered the business to close because it failed to meet sanitary standards, but Litzman allegedly stepped in to prevent the closure, using his influence on Health Ministry officials to do so.
The police also investigated other incidents in which Litzman was suspected to have influenced Health Ministry workers to alter their professional decisions to meet his requirements. However, the police did not find sufficient evidence to recommend indicting Litzman.
Litzman’s office released a statement denying the allegations.
“As we have said all along, Deputy Minister Litzman has always worked for the benefit of Israel’s citizens, with total transparency and in accordance with the law. Litzman’s office has an open-door policy for the benefit of the public, without any discrimination of any kind and without checking the caller’s status, all with respect to the law and integrity,” his spokesman stated,
The statement further noted that the police clearly stated that they believe no offense has been committed in most of the investigated suspicions against Litzman.
“As for the other allegations, we have no doubt that after careful consideration, it will be clear that no crime has been committed by the Deputy Minister,” the statement said.
Dassi Erlich, one of Leifer’s victims, stated Tuesday that the investigation into Litzman’s conduct “brought to light the systemic cover-up and support of abusers, in the highest levels of government, particularly in the Malka Leifer case.”
“The recommendation for Litzman to be charged, has us feeling excited, relieved and encouraged going forward,” she added.