Israeli minister tried to obstruct extradition of woman wanted on child sex abuse charges, police say

Officers recommend Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman face charges of fraud and breach of trust in Malka Leifer case


There is evidence that a top Israeli politician tried to interfere in proceedings to extradite an alleged sex offender to Australia, police announced this week.

Officials recommended that Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman should face charges of fraud and breach of trust in relation to the Malka Leifer affair.

The case has been riling Australia and thje country’s Jewish community in particular for more than a decade.

There is fury over the fact that she arrived in Israel in 2008 amid accusations that she had abused girls in her care at Melbourne’s Adass Israel School — and, despite efforts, still has not been extradited to stand trial.

Police this week said they suspect that Mr Litzman, who represents the United Torah Judaism party, tried to “improperly influence” state psychiatrists who have played a key part in slowing down the extradition.

Officers also concluded that there is evidence to indict him for improperly using his power to help prisoners, some of them convicted sex offenders, and for intervening to stop an unsanitary food business from being closed down.

Ms Leifer’s alleged victims and their supporters were always at a loss to explain why psychiatrists were so sympathetic to the claim that she was mentally unfit to stand trial. On one occasion, such opinions put the case into deep freeze for a long stint.

Now, campaigners to extradite her say it is becoming clear that strings were being pulled by powerful people.

Manny Waks, abuse survivor and director of the anti-abuse Kol V’Oz group, said: “Those of us who have been following this case closely over the years have always wondered how it reached this level of farce — there have been over 50 court hearings, with no end in sight.

“It seems the truth is slowly coming to light: an alleged interference at the highest level by Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Deputy Health Minister — ironically, the highest government representative tasked with the health and well-being of Israel’s citizens.”

Dassi Erlich, an alleged victim, said that her campaign for extradition prompted investigations that “brought to light the systemic cover-up and support of abusers in the highest levels of government, particularly in the Malka Leifer case.”

Ms Erlich, who is campaigning with two sisters who also allege abuse, stated: “The recommendation for Litzman to be charged has us feeling excited, relieved and encouraged going forward.”

Mr Litzman denies wrongdoing, and his office released a statement on Tuesday insisting that he works “with strict adherence to the law, and this will soon be proven.”

Colleagues from his party stood behind him, as did the other Charedi party, Shas.

Opposition politicians noted that Mr Litzman is the fifth politician associated with the current government — one of them being Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who has been recommended for indictment by police.

Yael German of the Blue & White alliance said the latest scandal highlights how Israelis should choose a different kind of leadership --- “a Blue & White government that will work for the public.”

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