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A-G leaning toward indicting UTJ MK Ya’acov Litzman

CM 22/04/2021 1

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Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit is leaning toward indicting top United Torah Judaism MK and Construction and Housing Minister Ya’acov Litzman for fraud, witness tampering and breach of public trust for allegedly interfering in the extradition of alleged pedophile Malka Leifer, subject to a pre-indictment hearing.Officials would not confirm the leak, though there was a clear sense that the decision was impending.In August 2019, police recommended indicting then-deputy health minister Litzman.In a second case, the police had recommended indicting Litzman for bribery, while police had closed a third case against Litzman due to a combination of insufficient evidence and charges which had expired due to the statute of limitations for when a case could be brought.Despite police recommendations, Mandelblit makes the final decision about whether or not to accept the prosecution’s and the police recommendations.In 2019, the police said that they found sufficient evidence to charge Litzman with trying to influence the opinion of psychiatrists appointed by the Ministry of Health in order to aid Leifer and prevent her extradition to Australia where she was wanted for dozens of cases of sexual abuse that she is accused of committing while serving as a head of school in Melbourne.In a statement, the police said that Litzman, a Gur hassid, attempted to pressure the Jerusalem district psychiatrist into falsely stating that Leifer was mentally unfit to be extradited to Australia to stand trial.

The same psychiatrist who originally filed an opinion stating that Leifer was competent to stand trial, allegedly switched his opinion completely after pressure by Litzman.If true, Litzman’s meeting with the key witness in the extradition case would constitute witness tampering.He also is accused of threatening other medical professionals at the ministry if they did not write reports in a way favorable to Leifer.Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 amid allegations that she had sexually abused students at the Adass Yisroel school in Melbourne.She is wanted on 74 charges of child sexual abuse.Leifer was arrested in Israel in 2014, but was released after being deemed mentally unfit for the legal proceedings. She was later rearrested after an undercover investigation found that she lived a normal life and was mentally fit to face extradition.In January, Leifer was finally extradited.A second case investigated by police was about Litzman’s alleged involvement in trying to influence officials in the ministry to work on behalf of a food establishment whose owner is close to the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) politician.Litzman allegedly frequented the establishment during the period in dispute and allegedly tried to prevent the closure of the company, which had been found to pose a health hazard to the public after several people became sick by consuming its products.After health ministry inspectors initially closed the establishment, Litzman ordered a new on-site tour including both him and the officials who had closed it.As part of the tour he told the officials that it should be reopened and that he personally had been eating the food and was fine.Allegedly Litzman even asked about the officials’ salaries in order to probe whether they could be bribed.Though the officials did not go for this offer, Litzman could still be indicted for attempted bribery.The police said that the investigation found sufficient evidence against Litzman to charge him with bribery, fraud, obstruction of justice and breach of trust.The third case, which was closed by police, included potential charges that Litzman tried to influence officials in the health and other ministries to help various prisoners, especially those with sex-crime convictions, to get early releases.While many convicts get early releases, ministers are prohibited from involvement in the process which is based on a series of recommendations by professionals about different issues coming from different ministries.Multiple officials on Litzman’s staff who were also suspects in some of the above cases will also reportedly get off.After the 2019 police recommendation, Litzman’s office responded, “[Deputy] Minister Litzman has worked throughout his years for the benefit of Israeli citizens, with complete transparency and by law. The office of Litzman has a clear, open-door policy to assist the public. This is without discrimination against anyone, and without clarifying the status of those who call for assistance, except under the law and [with] integrity.”Jeremy Sharon and Jpost Staff contributed to this report.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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