Ostreicher Out on Bail, Bolivian Media Reports

JUST IN: [UPDATED] Jacob Ostreicher, imprisoned for about 19 months without formal charges, was released on bail moments ago, according to Bolivian media reports. The bail hearing this morning, was the 30th hearing for Ostreicher – with about 28 of the scheduled hearings cancelled

Ostreicher was led into the courthouse wearing a bullet-proof vest and helmet, after threats were made to his life, according to reports.

After Judge Eneas Gentili announced the bail, the room erupted in joy, the report said. The report also says the judge order for a deposit of 10,000 Bs be made from Ostreicher.

UPDATE:

Jacob Ostreicher, an American businessman imprisoned without formal charges for over 18 months in Bolivia, is finally out of prison on bail, following a hearing today in Bolivia, said Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (NY-12), who returned from a bipartisan congressional delegation to Bolivia on Dec. 9 to meet with Ostreicher.

No evidence of any wrongdoing was ever presented in the case. While welcoming this first positive development in Jacob’s case, Smith expressed outrage that the process has dragged on for so long and Jacob and his family have had to endure so much suffering to simply get bail. Jacob has been left weak and frail from his ordeal, developing symptoms of Parkinson disease for which he is being treated. He has lost the entirety of the rice farming business he operated.

“The Bolivian Government has taken positive steps, particularly by arresting government officials who were committing extortion against Jacob as well as a number of Bolivians,” said Smith, chairman of a U.S. congressional subcommittee that oversees international human rights. “But this is only the beginning of the end. Jacob has incurred permanent damage to his health and has lost over 18 precious months of his life with his wife, children and grandchildren. In addition, his life remains at risk every day that he remains in Bolivia, due to credible death threats against him. I urgently call on the Bolivian judicial system to act swiftly to completely exonerate Jacob of the baseless accusations against him and grant him his freedom. And I hope the Bolivian Government continues to follow through on the investigation of and charges against the real criminals in this case, so that other innocent persons do not have to suffer or continue to endure the same fate.”

“While a welcome step, granting Jacob bail is long overdue,” said Velázquez. “In the immediate term, given the health and personal safety issues, it is critical Jacob remain out of prison. Going forward Jacob deserves the opportunity to clear his name. He should receive either an immediate, fair trial or, failing that, be released to his family.”

The case has put an international spotlight on the many severe injustices of Bolivia’s legal system. Actor Sean Penn, who has also supported Ostreicher, attended a hearing in Santa Cruz last week. Smith has held two congressional hearings on the case, and first met with Ostreicher during a trip to Bolivia in June.

During the June visit, Smith met with the Bolivian Minister of Government, Carlos Romero, to detail Ostreicher’s ordeal, including repeated court delays and complete lack of evidence against him. Romero told Smith he would investigate Jacob’s case. In past weeks, 10 people involved in the case have been arrested on charges of corruption, including the legal adviser to the Ministry of Government, Fernando Rivera, who Smith personally observed interfering in court proceedings. Bolivian media recently reported that Romero stated he first became interested in the case as a result of his meeting with Smith.

Earlier this month, Smith and Velazquez met with Romero, as well as separately with Jacob, his lawyers, Acting Foreign Minister Elmer Catarina, Vice Foreign Minister Alfredo Rada, Vice Minister of Interior Affairs Jorge Perez and Attorney General Ramiro José Guerrero.

In August of 2012, Smith held a second hearing on Ostreicher’s case entitled “Seeking Freedom for American Trapped in Bolivian Prison.” Chairman Smith also introduced “Jacob’s Law” (H.R. 6292), based on Smith’s prior legislation. The bill would prohibit the travel of foreign officials and their families’ to the United States if those officials are known to be complicit in the violation of fundamental human and due process rights of Americans imprisoned in their home country. TLS.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder if he can have the house arrest in the safety of his own country, in america, & also so he can go to a proper hospital so he can be rehabilitated properly back to decent health if possible…

  2. While we must be thankful for this important news, this is unfortunately not over, and no, he can’t come home yet. This just means he is allowed out of jail on bail but needs to stay iin Bolivia and I think even under house arrest. His life is in danger and he reportedly received death threats before his hearing today, which pushed off the hearing until they got him a flak jacket (bullet-proof vest) and helmet. He still very much needs our tefillos to be exonerated completely and to come home. And to #2, I don’t know if you’ve been following this case but it has been full of corruption and lies on the part of Bolivian prosecutors, and only recently did other government officials investigate and arrested 7 or 8 corrupt officials who among other things were stealing from and selling confiscated goods from the rice business Yanky was working with. At every hearing R’ Yanky had, they came up with some other reason or fight to postpone the hearing. One of the first judges did grant him bail but almost immediately (under pressure from the crooked prosecutors) changed his mind. That judge was very quickly promoted to a higher position.

  3. Call Frank Lautenberg and Mendez NOW!!! ask them to introduce legislation in the Senate corresponding to Jacobs Law that Chris Smith introduced in the house

    Frank Lautenberg
    973-639-8700

    Menedez
    202.224.4744

  4. I’m still not clear as to the whole purpose of singling Jacob out? Was it simply a matter of officials wanting to take away his earnings because of greed?They want to kill him because of all the attention he has drawn to the corrupt Bolivian government?

  5. Thank you to Congressman Chris Smith (and others) who put their efforts to help Jacob. He is a real mentch. I hope Jacob can get out of that godforsaken country and get back to real life.

  6. Perhaps you didn’t realize the fact that there WAS no accusation, period. Bolivian law allows a person to be held for up to 18 months with no charge, period. The 18-month passed a couple of weeks ago, with no evidence whatsoever that there was any sort of crime at all. Hope that helps.

  7. Continued – We just need to do our part. Daven. Think about:
    Rubashkin, 2 in bolivia 1 is ostreicher then the other if i’m not mistaken Pollard…?! WE GOT TO PRAY FOR ALL OF THESE PEOPLE.

Comments are closed.