Israel police support criminal charges for deputy health minister

Israeli authorities recommended criminal charges Tuesday for deputy health minister Yaakov Litzman, who police say aided an accused pedophile.

Police said they’ve collected enough evidence to charge Litzman with fraud, breach of trust and witness tampering, stemming from cases that involve former Australian school principal Malka Leifer.

Authorities said Litzman attempted to pressure a Jerusalem psychiatrist into saying Leifer was not fit for extradition to Australia to stand trial. He’s also accused of exerting undue influence over other evaluations of Leifer’s mental state. Leifer faces 74 criminal counts of child sex abuse.

Leifer fled from Australia to Israel in 2008 amid accusations she sexually abused students at an all-girl ultra-Orthodox school in Melbourne. She was arrested in Israel in 2014, but released after she was declared mentally unfit for legal proceedings. She was again arrested last year after an undercover investigation concluded otherwise.

Jewish Community Watch Director Meyer Seewald said the police charges show Litzman shielded her from extradition.

The deputy health minister has also been investigated in the past for supposedly giving preferential treatment for convicted pedophiles in prison, including efforts to secure early parole.

Litzman, an ultra-Orthodox Party leader and key ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has denied the accusations.

“Lizman has worked throughout his years for the benefit of Israeli citizens, with complete transparency and by law,” his office said in a statement.”The [recommendation] also clearly shows the police also believe that no offense was committed in most of the suspicions.

“We are unquestionably confident that, upon close examination, it will be revealed that no crime was committed by the deputy minister.”

BySommer Brokaw