Ex-minister Litzman sentenced over Australia sex abuse case

Former health minister sentenced to probation and a fine as part of a plea bargain in which he admitted to abusing his authority to block extradition of alleged child abuser Malka Leifer

Gilad Cohen, Associated Press|
The Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem sentenced former health minister Yaakov Litzman to probation and a fine on Monday for obstructing justice in connection with the protracted extradition case against a former teacher accused of sexually abusing her students in Australia.
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  • The 73-year-old was given eight months of probation and was ordered to pay a fine of NIS 3,000 fine ($900).
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    ליצמן בהשמעת גזר הדין
    ליצמן בהשמעת גזר הדין
    Yaakov Litzman
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevtich)
    Litzman resigned from the Knesset earlier this year after striking a plea deal with the prosecutors. He was accused of causing his authority as health minister to pressure ministry employees to alter psychiatric evaluations to make it appear that Malka Leifer was unfit to stand trial.
    Leifer was extradited to Australia in January 2021, after a six-year legal battle that strained relations between the two countries and angered Australia's Jewish community. Leifer has pleaded not guilty to the charges and her trial is expected to start later this month.
    Litzman was health minister during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic but resigned in April 2020 in the face of a public uproar over his handling of the crisis. He was charged with fraud and breach of trust earlier this year but pleaded guilty to the breach of trust charge in the Leifer case.
    2 View gallery
    מלכה לייפר
    מלכה לייפר
    Malka Leifer
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    He and Leifer are members of the country's insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. Last year, then-Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said Litzman had used his position "to advance the interests of private individuals."
    As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped charges that Litzman used his influence to prevent a friend's deli from being shut down over health concerns.
    The Movement for Quality Government in Israel said the court's acceptance of the "lenient and shameful" plea deal erodes public trust and law enforcement's ability to perform its duty.
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