Israeli ex-minister Yaakov Litzman indicted for aiding suspected sex felon

Israeli ex-minister Yaakov Litzman indicted for aiding suspected sex felon
2 min read
The former lawmaker admitted to helping a suspected sex offender avoid trial and was later charged with fraud and breach of trust.
Litzman, a dual Israeli-Australian citizen, is a former health minister [Getty]

A leading ultra-Orthodox Israeli lawmaker admitted Thursday to helping a suspected sex felon try to avoid trial, as part of a plea bargain that would keep him out of prison.

Yaakov Litzman, a former health minister and head of the United Torah Judaism faction, was charged with fraud and breach of trust for using his political power to sway the expert opinion of a psychiatrist examining the mental fitness of Malka Leifer.

Leifer, a dual Israeli-Australian citizen, was extradited to Australia last year after a lengthy legal battle in Israel, where she claimed to be mentally unfit to stand trial.

The ultra-Orthodox woman is facing 70 charges of child sex abuse at a Jewish school where she worked in Australia between 2004-2008, including rape, indecent assault and child sexual abuse.

"According to the plea bargain, Litzman will admit the charges and be convicted, with the sides jointly requesting a suspended jail term and fine," a justice ministry statement said, without providing further details.

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The deal was set to be brought to the Jerusalem magistrate's court, where a judge needed to approve it.

The 73-year-old Litzman, who has been a lawmaker and minister for over 20 years, recently announced he would not be seeking reelection to parliament beyond this term.

The deal comes days before Avichai Mandelblit stepped down as attorney general, and less than a week after Aryeh Deri, leader of Israel's largest ultra-Orthodox party, resigned from parliament as part of a plea deal in a tax fraud case.

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel, a prominent non-government organisation, slammed the "shameful" deal.

It accused eMandelblit of "dragging his feet" and approving "lenient deals" with public officials that harm the prosecution's ability to fight corruption.

While there was no formal demand to do so as part of the deal, a source close to Litzman implied he might resign from parliament, a move that could help him in the sentencing.