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6 Aug, 2019 12:34

Israeli deputy health minister must be indicted for helping alleged pedophile avoid justice – police

Israeli deputy health minister must be indicted for helping alleged pedophile avoid justice – police

Yaakov Litzman, Israel’s ultra-orthodox deputy health minister, could be indicted on charges of fraud for allegedly using his office to help a Jewish school principal accused of sexually abusing children in Australia.

Malka Leifer was the principal of the Adass Israel Jewish religious school in Melbourne until she fled to Israel to escape accusations of at least 74 cases of child sex abuse involving at least eight victims. Since 2014, she has faced dozens of hearings as Australia attempts to secure her extradition, with the final decision due in September.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman, leader of the ultra-orthodox United Torah Judaism alliance in the Knesset, is suspected of obstructing justice to protect her. He allegedly pressured Health Ministry officials into releasing a mental health evaluation which resulted in her release from house arrest (though she was later rearrested and accused of feigning mental illness).

Suspicion of Litzman’s involvement has been reported before, but on Tuesday the police’s anti-corruption unit released a statement saying there’s enough evidence to put him on trial. It is also alleged that he used a similar scheme to help several other sex offenders, pulling strings with state psychiatrists and prison officials to improve the offenders’ conditions.

In a separate case, Litzman is suspected of pressuring health officials to prevent the closure of a food business which was found to be dangerously unsanitary.

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will now decide whether to indict Litzman.
Litzman himself, whose real authority is reportedly greater than the station of a deputy minister would suggest, is confident he will not be charged. In a response to police, he claims he was merely “assisting members of the public… without discrimination between populations and without clarifying the status of those who call for assistance.”

The deputy minister expressed confidence that no charges would ultimately be filed.

Survivors of Leifer’s alleged sex abuse, however, hold out hope that the police findings will be a step towards finally getting justice.

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