An Australian delegation has apologized for meeting yesterday with Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who is alleged to have pressured officials in his office to falsify their psychiatric evaluations to deem Malka Leifer unfit for extradition back to Melbourne, where she is charged with 74 counts of sexual abuse.
The delegation was organized by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, which seeks to promote business ties between Jerusalem and Canberra. It was hosting senior officials from the Australian state of Western Australia, including Deputy Health Minister Roger Cook.
“On reflection, the Chamber is profoundly sorry for facilitating the meeting with Litzman whilst there are serious allegations made against him and fully supports the campaign to bring Malka Leifer to justice in Australia. The Chamber sincerely apologises to the victims, their families and supporters for causing any hurt and pain,” the group’s director Paul Israel says in a statement, clarifying that his delegation had neglected to brief Cook on the allegations against Litzman beforehand.
In its own statement, Cook’s office says that “while the current court proceedings are a matter for the Israeli justice system, Minister Cook would never wish to cause pain or suffering to any alleged victims of child sex abuse.”
The Kol V’oz sexual abuse victims’ rights group, which lambasted the meeting with Litzman yesterday, thanks the chamber and the minister for their apologies. “Hopefully lessons have been learned, and we can all move on from this unfortunate saga. My thoughts continue to be with Leifer’s courageous alleged victims,” said Kol V’oz head Manny Waks.
— Jacob Magid