ISRAEL’S Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman is suspected of receiving a bribe in relation to the Malka Leifer case, according to a television report.
Channel 13 News reported that he is suspected of taking a bribe in the context of attempts to influence a psychiatric opinion that could help to prevent her extradition.
Police interrogated Litzman over the Leifer case in February – but in relation to suspected interference. If suspicions now include bribery, this could represent a serious upping of the stakes.
However, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The AJN that he is unaware of any development, and said he did not know the source of the story.
The Leifer case hinges on her mental health, as her defence team insists that she is too unwell to face extradition proceedings – a claim that Israel’s state lawyers, who are pushing for extradition, deny.
On Monday, the Leifer team presented Jerusalem District Court with a psychiatrist who claimed that Leifer has unfakeable symptoms of mental illness.
Moshe Kotler is the third psychiatrist that Leifer’s legal team has presented to court. Each has claimed that she is unfit to stand trial for extradition.
Kotler, who works in Israeli health centres, declined to speak with The AJN when he emerged from the hearing, which was held behind closed doors.
But Leifer’s lawyer Yehuda Fried said that Kotler had examined Leifer twice, in November and December, and found her to be schizophrenic.
Fried said that while “theoretically” one could claim that symptoms like hearing voices are faked, Kotler observed symptoms that “you can’t act”, including “emptiness” and a lack of emotion.
State lawyers maintain that Leifer is well enough to face extradition proceedings, and they are expected to argue their case in the next hearing, next month.
Activists calling for Leifer’s extradition are watching coalition negotiations with interest to see who becomes Israel’s next Justice Minister, after the current minister Ayelet Shaked of Jewish Home lost her Knesset seat.
They were in contact with Shaked during her time in office, and are keen to see a replacement who views the case as important.