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 alleged child sex abuser Malka Leifer including preventing her from being extradited to Australia where she faces 74 counts of child abuse, and for bribery for helping to prevent the shutdown of a food business that the health ministry determined had serious sanitation violations.
The police recommendation that Litzman be charged with bribery, fraud, witness tampering and breach of trust was announced on Tuesday.
He is accused of offering special benefits to Health Ministry employees in exchange for their preventing the Jerusalem-area restaurant and catering service from being closed.
In the Leifer case, Litzman is accused of pressuring Jerusalem district psychiatrist Dr. Jacob Charnes to say that Leifer was mentally unfit to stand trial.
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 neighbors and others and following new psychological assessments, psychiatrists determined that Leifer was faking her mental status and that she was mentally 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 national elections.
The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office will decide whether Litzman should be indicted.