Ex-Israeli cabinet minister sentenced for interfering in Australian sex abuse case

Former Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman given suspended sentence for interfering in Malka Leifer extradition proceedings.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

The Jerusalem Magistrates Court sentenced former Health Minister Yaakov Litzman to a suspended prison sentence and a fine on Monday for interfering in the extradition proceedings of Malka Leifer, a former Australian school principal who is about to go on trial in Melbourne for sexually abusing her students.

Litzman was accused of trying to influence the opinion of psychiatrists from the Ministry of Health who were appointed to determine Leifer’s mental capacity and fitness to stand trial. For several years Leifer fought extradition to Australia, where she is accused of sexually abusing girls at Adass Israel School, a private Jewish school.

As part of the plea agreement, Litzman resigned from the Knesset in January and pleaded guilty to a charge of obstructing justice. In exchange, prosecutors dropped charges of moral turpitude, which would carry a heavier punishment and prevent the 73-year old from ever running for public office.

Litzman is not a candidate for United Torah Judaism in Israel’s Nov. 1 elections. He has not indicated if he intends to make a political comeback in a future election.

Leifer, who has dual Australian-Israeli citizenship, staved off her extradition for several years by feigning mental illness.

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After numerous appeals to the courts in Israel were turned down, she was finally extradited to Australia in January 2021. Leifer faces 74 charges, including rape, 47 counts of indecent assault and 13 of committing an indecent act with a child.

Leifer’s trial by jury is due to begin on August 22 in the Melbourne Magistrates Court. She has already entered a plea of not guilty.

The Adass Israel School is operated by Ger Chassidim, of which both Litzman and Leifer are members.

Litzman’s plea bargain also closed a second investigation. He was accused of interfering in Health Ministry efforts to close a restaurant over health violations. Litzman frequented the delicatessen and was close friends of the owner.