JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Israel Police recommended indicting Israeli lawmaker Yaakov Litzman for bribery and aiding an alleged pedophile.
Litzman, who heads the haredi Orthodox United Torah Judaism party and serves as deputy health minister, could be charged with fraud and breach of trust for helping Malka Leifer, including preventing her from being extradited to Australia where she faces 74 counts of child abuse.
He also faces bribery charges for allegedly helping to prevent the shutdown of a food business that the health ministry determined had serious sanitation violations. He is also accused of offering special benefits to Health Ministry employees in exchange for their preventing the Jerusalem-area restaurant and catering service from being closed.
The police recommendation that Litzman be charged with bribery, fraud, witness tampering and breach of trust was announced on Tuesday.
In the Leifer case, Litzman is accused of pressuring Jerusalem district psychiatrist Jacob Charnes to say that Leifer was mentally unfit to stand trial. She is accused of molesting several girls while the principal of a haredi Orthodox girls’ school in Australia.
Because of the psychiatrist’s opinion police did not call on Leifer to testify, which was a major reason her extradition was not approved. In early 2018, following testimony from neighbours and others and following new psychological assessments, psychiatrists determined that Leifer was faking her symptoms of mental illness and that she was fit to stand trial. She has been in prison for over a year but has not yet been extradited.
Litzman denies the accusations; the police recommendation comes less than six weeks before the national election.
The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office will decide whether Litzman should be indicted.