Shock twist in sex-charge teacher case
ISRAELI police have recommended the prosecution of a senior Israeli health official for allegedly interfering in the extradition case of Malka Leifer, the former Melbourne teacher who is facing child sex offence charges.
In a major development in the long-running case, Israeli police have recommended that Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman be indicted over claims he tampered with witnesses in Leifer's case.
He has also been accused of bribery and fraud on separate matters.
Mr Litzman was accused of forcing psychiatrists to change their medical opinion so that
Leifer would be found mentally unfit to stand trial and could not be sent back to Australia.
The former Melbourne teacher was later described in court as fit to stand trial after testimony from neighbours and second opinions from different psychiatrists.
Leifer, who was at one time was the head of Melbourne's ultra orthodox Adass Israel school in Elsternwick, faces 74 charges of sexual assault of female students in Australia.
The Israeli police tonight said in a statement that they had found enough evidence for an indictment of Mr Litzman.
"With the end of this investigation the Israeli police's position is that there is enough alleged evidence against Deputy Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman of offences of fraud, breach of trust, and impeachment in testimony in the (Malka Leifer) extradition case," it said.
The investigation case will be transferred to prosecutors in Jerusalem.
Israeli outlet News 13 said Mr Litzman allegedly met with the psychiatrists to change their diagnosis in favour of Leifer.
The investigation allegedly found the psychiatrists were afraid they would be fired if they did not co-operate.
"What do you want from me? In front of me sat the minister in charge and told me what to do," one of the psychiatrists allegedly told police.
Mr Litzman's office said in a statement: "As we have informed all along the way, Deputy Minister Litzman has worked in all of his years of job in favour of the citizens of Israel in total transparency and according to the law.
"Mr Litzman's office takes a clear policy of an open door to assist and help the public without discrimination between populations and different communities.
"And without checking the status of the people who have come to him for assistance, only by the law and the justice.
"We are sure without a doubt that after a close examination it will be revealed that his actions were flawless."
Manny Waks, of victims' rights group Kol Voz, said Mr Litzman should resign all his positions.
"We also hope that today's announcement will ensure Israel is on the way to rectifying its international reputation, which suffered greatly due to this case. The ball is now very much in Israel's court," he said.
"We stand steadfastly behind Leifer's courageous alleged victims, and hope and expect that justice will prevail."
Police did not recommend charges against the psychiatrists.
Leifer's case, which has already been the subject of more than 50 hearings, was still being considered by the Jerusalem court at a date to be fixed.