Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) was questioned by Israeli police Thursday, on suspicion he aided an alleged sex abuser who fled Australia to Israel to avoid extradition.
Police revealed Thursday afternoon that the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit had questioned Litzman, amid suspicions he used his position to help Malka Leifer, a former educator from a haredi school in Australia, avoid extradition.
Litzman is suspected of using his influence in the health ministry to secure a psychiatric assessment of Leifer which would find her unfit, and thus prevent her extradition.
Leifer, fled Australia in 2008, after she was accused of sexually abusing students at the Adass Isroel school, where she served as headmistress. Authorities in Melbourne, Australia charged Leifer with 74 counts of abuse relating to incidents from 2003 to 2008.
While Leifer was taken into custody in Israel in 2014, she was later found mentally unfit for extradition.
The Deputy Health Minister’s office denied any wrong doing, saying in a statement that he acted in accordance with the law.
“Deputy Health Minister MK Yaakov Litzman was summoned today by the police for questioning in connection with an appeal from the public for help. Litzman gave his full statement and answered all questions which were asked.”
“Litzman is confident of his innocence, and will continue to give assistance to every request which reaches his office, in accordance with the laws and relevant regulations.”
The Jewish Community Watch organization, however, accused Litzman of having a “long history of showing concern for the abuser over the victim”
In a statement by JCW director Meyer Seewald, the group said a private investigation found Leifer’s claim of being mentally unfit to be baseless.
“The allegation that Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman used his position to help obtain a false psychiatric report in order to help Malka Leifer avoid extradition to Australia is shocking but unfortunately not at all surprising.
“JCW hired a private investigator to expose Malka Leifer's claim that she was unfit to stand trial as nothing more than a shameful fraud to avoid justice. Leifer's defense team has used a host of underhanded tactics to drag the proceedings out as long as possible and make a mockery of Israel's criminal justice system.
“Deputy Health Minister Litzman himself has a long history of showing concern for the abuser over the victim.”