Police have recommended Tuesday that United Torah Judaism chairman and Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman be indicted on charges of offering bribes, fraud, and breach of trust.
The recommendation to indict are tied to two separate cases, following investigations into Litzman’s behavior.
The investigations began following a string of incidents during which Litzman, who serves as the de facto Health Minister even while officially holding the title of Deputy Health Minister, is said to have abused his authority, using his influence within the ministry to pressure health officials.
One case related to the extradition process for a former headmaster at a haredi school in Australia.
Malka Leifer, who fled Australia in 2008 after she was accused of sexually abusing students at the Adass Isroel school where she worked, sought refuge in Israel, eventually moving to the haredi town of Emmanuel in Samaria.
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.
But earlier this year, the police department’s Lahav 443 anti-corruption unit revealed that it had opened an investigation into allegations that Litzman had used his influence to help secure professional opinions finding Leifer unfit for extradition.
Litzman denied any wrong doing.
Police say Litzman is also under investigation for a string of similar cases, where the Deputy Minister allegedly used his influence to pressure health officials (in particular mental health officials) to deliver findings which would benefit inmates serving terms in prison, some of whom were convicted of sexual crimes. According to the allegations, Litzman sought to help the prisoners obtain early releases, or in some cases, have their request for weekend outings approved.
A second case under investigation relates to claims Litzman allegedly used his influence in the Health Ministry to shield a business in the food industry from closure, after ministry officials found serious violations of the sanitary code, which apparently resulted in a number of people becoming sick. The business is owned by someone with close ties to Litzman.
According to the police department’s recommendation, sufficient evidence has been found to indictment Litzman for fraud and breach of public trust in the Leifer extradition case, along with as well as fraud, offering bribes, and breach of trust in the case relating to a business in the food industry.
In regards to the cases linked to prisoners currently serving their sentences, some of the incidents in question had passed the statute of limitations, while in others insufficient evidence was found for an indictment.
The case is expected to be taken up by the Jerusalem district prosecutor’s office within the next few days, after which a final decision will be made regarding the possible indictment.