Israel's Health Czar Suspected of Bribery in Australian Principal Sex Abuse Case

Yaakov Litzman suspected of accepting bribes related to alleged attempts to influence psychiatrist's assessment that prevented extradition of accused pedophile Malka Leifer

File photo: Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman attends a conference in 2018.
Ofer Vaknin

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman is suspected of taking a bribe for allegedly attempting to prevent the extradition of an accused pedophile to Australia, according to Channel 13 News.

According to a report published on the weekend by Channel 13’s Baruch Kra, Litzman is suspected of accepting a bribe to influence a psychiatric evaluation of accused pedophile Malka Leifer that would prevent her extradition.

Leitzman has been questioned over the past two months on suspicion that he and his aides threatened senior psychiatrists to change their evaluation of Leifer. The psychiatrists told the police that they were pressured to the point of hints that the outcome would be bad for them if they did not cooperate.

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Leifer, a former principal of an ultra-Orthodox girls’ school in Melbourne, has been charged with 74 counts of rape and sexual assault. She fled to Israel in 2008.

The police are also investigating Litzman’s alleged interference in the case of a sexual offender close to the Gerrer Hasidic group, by pressuring a psychiatrist to evaluate the offender as low risk, although he had not taken responsibility for his actions. Such an evaluation would mean that the offender would not be subject to close supervision and would allow him to join a rehabilitation program so he can have furloughs from prison.

Malka Leifer is facing possible extradition on 74 counts of suspected sexual abuse. She was the headmistress of an ultra-Orthodox girls’ school in Melbourne and fled to Israel in 2008
Mahmoud Illean/AP

Litzman, who is also chairman of United Torah Judaism, is one of three party leaders suspected of criminal actions, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who are expected to join the new government coalition. Netanyahu, who is chairman of Likud, is facing three indictments pending hearings on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the lavish gifts affair, the favorable coverage affair and the Bezeq-Walla affair. The head of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Interior Minister Arye Dery, is expected to be indicted for tax fraud.