search

AG said set to charge Litzman for meddling in Leifer case, pending a hearing

Mandelblit expected to indict minister on fraud, breach of trust, for pressuring staffers to alter conclusions of psychiatric evaluations, block extradition of alleged pedophile

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Then-Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman at the ceremony for the opening of a new branch of his Agudath Israel party, ahead of upcoming elections, in the northern city of Safed, July 4, 2019. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Then-Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman at the ceremony for the opening of a new branch of his Agudath Israel party, ahead of upcoming elections, in the northern city of Safed, July 4, 2019. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is set to announce his intention to indict Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism, pending a hearing, in two criminal cases in the coming weeks, according to Hebrew media reports Thursday.

According to Ynet and Channel 12, Litzman will be accused of using his office to illicitly provide assistance to alleged serial sex abuser Malka Leifer, and of allegedly helping to prevent the closure of a food business that his own ministry had deemed unsanitary.

Litzman’s office reiterated his denial of wrongdoing, saying he always acted in the public interest, with “full transparency” and according to the law.

“The office maintains an open-door policy to assist the public without discrimination between groups or sectors or clarifying the situation of those turning for help,” it said in a statement.

It also expressed confidence Litzman would be cleared of the allegations.

Litzman, a former health minister, is accused of pressuring employees in his office to alter the conclusions of psychiatric evaluations that had deemed Leifer fit for extradition.

Leifer was eventually extradited to Australia in January, nearly 13 years after she fled Melbourne as allegations against her were coming to light and after a six-year legal process during which a court determined that she had feigned mental illness in order to avoid facing justice.

Malka Leifer, right, is brought to a courtroom in Jerusalem, February 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean, File)

In a second case, Litzman is suspected of influencing officials in the Health Ministry to prevent the closure of a food business whose owner “he is close to” — a closure that had been ordered due to “serious sanitary issues that led to the sickness of a number of people who ate from its products.”

In January, Litzman stepped down as chair of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party after 18 years at the helm, with Moshe Gafni taking the lead. Litzman is now the party’s No. 2.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed