Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said Thursday he intends to indict United Torah Judaism Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman for obstruction of justice and breach of trust, subject to a hearing, in two criminal investigations.
"These are two investigations in which Minister Yaakov Litzman allegedly abused his status and power in order to advance the interests of private persons, with suspicions that he used his influence in contradiction to his authorities as health minister," said Mandleblit in a statement.
Litzman is suspected of unlawfully interfering in the case of Malka Leifer — an ultra-Orthodox educator who was accused of sexually assaulting several of her former underaged students in Australia.
Leifer was eventually extradited to Australia by Israel in January 2021 after a years-long legal battle.
Law enforcement suspect that during Litzman's tenure as health minister, he tried to influence psychiatrists to rule Leifer was mentally unfit to stand trial.
Police claim that Litzman contacted three senior psychiatrists who were tasked with assessing Leifer's mental fitness multiple times and conveyed to them the desired diagnosis and promised lucrative promotions in return.
At his investigation with police, Litzman denied knowing Leifer.
The ultra-Orthodox lawmaker is also suspected of trying to influence Health Ministry officials to prevent the closure of a restaurant whose poor sanitation conditions led several customers to fall ill.
Health Ministry officials found traces of salmonella and listeria in the food following reports a pregnant woman miscarried after eating at the place. In addition, officials managed to link three hospitalizations to bacteria detected at the establishment.
The business in question is located one block away from Litzman's Jerusalem home and even has products named after the UTJ co-leader.
The ministry's food department issued a closure warrant for the place in 2015 but Litzman asked to freeze the order and paid a visit to the restaurant alongside ministry officials.
A police investigation revealed that during the visit, Litzman told officials of several ways to avoid closing the business, admitting to them he was a frequent customer of the place.
After telling him the establishment posed a threat to public health, Litzman offered the officials better employment conditions. The officials declined his offer.
In an official statement Thursday, the minister's office said that "we believe in Minister Litzman’s full innocence," saying he was readying for the hearing and that "with the help of God," he would not ultimately be charged.
First published: 18:26 , 05.27.21