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La Paz, Bolivia - Bolivian Authorities Say They Arrested Gov. Official Linked To Jailed America's Ostreicher

Published on: November 26, 2012 07:40 PM
Last updated on: November 26, 2012 09:08 PM
By: AP
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Diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease, Jacob rests in a hospital covered in a blanket imprinted with pictures of his grandchildren.  Photo by El DeberDiagnosed with Parkinsons Disease, Jacob rests in a hospital covered in a blanket imprinted with pictures of his grandchildren.  Photo by El Deber

La Paz, Bolivia - A high-ranking Bolivian official was arrested Monday for alleged illegal enrichment from the sale of rice seized from a U.S. businessman who has been jailed for 18 months without charge.

The American, Jacob Ostreicher, was arrested in a money-laundering investigation but no evidence has been presented in court to support the case against him. He claims his incarceration has allowed corrupt officials to fleece him, seizing 18,000 metric tons of rice from his farming venture and selling most of it.

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The man arrested Monday and accused of receiving $9,900 in proceeds in a personal bank account from the sale of some of Ostreicher’s rice is Jose Manuel Antezana, an official in the Presidential Ministry who was named to the board of directors of the state-run Cartonbol cardboard company in 2010.

Prosecutor Javier Monasterios told reporters that authorities were investigating others in the case.

Ostreicher told The Associated Press that prosecutors told him there would be more arrests and that 11 people “who work for the government are under suspicion” for allegedly abuses of authority in his case.

“I’m very concerned that now that the story is finally going to break that, with 11 government officials involved in corruption, some officials are going to think that what better way to get rid of me but to kill me,” Ostreicher said from a clinic in the eastern city of Santa Cruz.

“So I have concern right now about not only my physical health but my safety,” added Ostreicher, 54.

Ostreicher has been treated for malnutrition at the clinic from a liquids-only hunger strike he mounted to protest his incarceration.

After a Halloween visit from the actor Sean Penn, Ostreicher was sent to the clinic, where he says he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

U.S. diplomats and New Jersey congressman Christopher Smith have also been visiting Ostreicher, an orthodox Jew from Brooklyn, N.Y., and interceding on his behalf.

The Associated Press has repeatedly questioned senior Bolivian officials about the case since last year, including its foreign minister and interior minister. The officials had said only that they would look into it.

A judge denied Ostreicher bail on Friday, but the New York man said he expected a new hearing next week.

Under Bolivian law, suspects may not be jailed for more than 18 months without charge.

Earlier this year, the regional director of DIRCABI, the state agency in charge of seized assets, was fired over the illegal sale of Ostreicher’s rice.

The American says he went to Bolivia to salvage a rice-growing investment after the local manager, whom he described as a Colombian con artist, defrauded investors and planted some of their rice on land owned by the brother of a Brazilian drug trafficker.

Prosecutors initially alleged that the $25 million invested in the rice venture was obtained illegally.

But they subsequently failed to present evidence supporting the allegations and authorities in Switzerland have vouched for Ostreicher’s Swiss business associate, Andre Zolty.

Ostreicher said he suspected from the moment of his arrest that Bolivian officials saw in him a golden opportunity to strip of all their assets a pair of foreign investors who had no clue how perilous Bolivian agribusiness would prove for them.

In below video Ostreicher is seen last week sent to a clinic, where he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.


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Read Comments (13)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Nov 26, 2012 at 07:52 PM Anonymous Says:

This is bad news since it validates the prosecution charges and means that he will now be charged with having paid bribes to government officials. Until now there was no proof he had violated Bolivian law.

2

 Nov 26, 2012 at 09:18 PM curious Says:

He didn't get in trouble because of bribes. But for illegally fleecing ostrchr.

3

 Nov 26, 2012 at 10:00 PM honesty Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

This is bad news since it validates the prosecution charges and means that he will now be charged with having paid bribes to government officials. Until now there was no proof he had violated Bolivian law.

Do you know what you are talking about?! Your comprehension level is ZERO! The article says that the Bolivian government officials involved in his case actually stole money from the sale of the rice after it was seized by these Bolivian government officials, which actually validate Ostreicher’s claims that the officials involved in his incarceration/ abduction/kidnapping did it because they wanted his money and are just a mafia gang in the name of law.

4

 Nov 26, 2012 at 10:11 PM Ari Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

This is bad news since it validates the prosecution charges and means that he will now be charged with having paid bribes to government officials. Until now there was no proof he had violated Bolivian law.

How did he violate any laws? The corrupt government stole his rice and some corrupt officials pocketed the moneys from its sale. This only proves that this entire thing was a government plot against him from the get go.

5

 Nov 26, 2012 at 10:31 PM DRE53 Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

This is bad news since it validates the prosecution charges and means that he will now be charged with having paid bribes to government officials. Until now there was no proof he had violated Bolivian law.

What are you talking about?
This story says that gov. officials STOLE the rise from Ostreicher.

6

 Nov 26, 2012 at 10:53 PM Rachel W. Says:

With the Bolivians, anything is possible. They are corrupt from head to toe and there's no telling what they'll dream up of charging him with next. We must pray fervently for the poor man's yeshua - he's been thru hell and needs us all to intervene on his behalf. Yakov Yehudah ben Shaindel... may Hashem have mercy and send him home already to the loving arms of his agonizing kin.

7

 Nov 26, 2012 at 10:59 PM newtransplant Says:

The fact that they are not allowed to hold anyone without charge for more than 18 months is good. They'll either have to charge hiim or apologise and release him with the proceeds from his rice.

8

 Nov 26, 2012 at 11:05 PM Ostrchr_Supporter Says:

Something more seems to be happening behind the scene.

How is it that a Government that plotted from the highest ranks controlling judges' orders, and now they're suddenly turning all around.

I'm glad it's happening, but there are certianly some missing pieces from the puzzle.

9

 Nov 26, 2012 at 11:30 PM hey_you_never_know Says:

Am I the only one that think that the US isn't trying hard enough? If this would someone famous would this still be going on or would the US give them 3 days to send him back or they risk having their country blown to shreds...

10

 Nov 26, 2012 at 11:54 PM volfe Says:

Whatever the story is this country(read zoo) is bankrupt
#LetBoliviaGoBankrupt

11

 Nov 27, 2012 at 12:02 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

This is bad news since it validates the prosecution charges and means that he will now be charged with having paid bribes to government officials. Until now there was no proof he had violated Bolivian law.

i think you should read the article again before you comment

12

 Nov 27, 2012 at 09:47 AM Howard Says:

Reply to #9  
hey_you_never_know Says:

Am I the only one that think that the US isn't trying hard enough? If this would someone famous would this still be going on or would the US give them 3 days to send him back or they risk having their country blown to shreds...

You can't be serious. I don't care how famous someone is, the U.S. wouldn't threaten to blow a country to shreds, as you put it, to get their release. The stupidity of some of the comments here is toxic.

13

 Nov 27, 2012 at 12:23 PM ziony Says:

Mr Ostreicher Is A very good & honest person. Its A crime against humanity what they are doing to him as you can see now what A corrupt country Bolivia is. all his friends & every American citizen have to call the White House & both embassies to let him go today. And we all have to daven for him. With Hashems help he will be home in no time to his dear wife, children, grand children & klall yisroel who cry for him every day.

14

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