AUSTRALIAN Jewish leaders have welcomed news last week that Israel’s Attorney-General has decided to indict controversial MK Yaakov Litzman for allegedly meddling in the Malka Leifer case.
Litzman – who still has the chance to persuade Avichai Mandelblit not to press charges – is accused of using his former position as deputy health minister to pressure employees in the Health Ministry to alter the conclusions of psychiatric evaluations that had deemed Leifer fit for extradition.
He could face charges of obstruction of justice and breach of trust, but denies any wrongdoing.
Welcoming the announcement, Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said, “Notwithstanding the unacceptable delays in having Leifer returned to face justice in Australia, this announcement gives us confidence that Israel’s justice system remains willing and able to hold to account anyone who has broken the law, regardless of their position.”
Echoing the sentiment, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said, “The allegations against Yaakov Litzman are very serious, so we are pleased that the Attorney-General has indicated his intention to proceed with the case.
“The alleged conduct could have denied justice to victims of an alleged very serious and debilitating crime, so it’s important that, at the very least, it is thoroughly scrutinised through the Israeli court system, so justice is done and is seen to be done.”
Leifer was eventually extradited to Australia in January, nearly 13 years after she left Melbourne and after a six-year legal process.
She is scheduled to appear for another committal mention in Melbourne on July 30.
Litzman is also suspected of influencing officials in the Health Ministry to prevent the closure of a food business whose owner he is close to – a closure that had been ordered due to “serious sanitary issues that led to the sickness of a number of people who ate from its products”.
A hearing to appeal the Attorney-General’s decision is likely to take place within the coming months.