WASHINGTON (JTA) — The chairman of the House human rights subcommittee said he was told by two Bolivian Cabinet ministers that they would look into the case of a jailed Brooklyn Chasidic Jewish man.
U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) said in a statement that Minister of Government Carlos Romero and Minister of Justice Cecilia Luisa Ayllon, with whom he met this week in Bolivia, were attentive and pledged to look into the case of Jacob Ostreicher, who has been held in Bolivia for more than a year without formal charges and bail.
“After a long meeting, Minister Ayllon concluded that ‘Your agony for Jacob Ostreicher is like my agony for Bolivians who are in the same situation,’ ” Smith said Thursday in his statement. “As a judge for 13 years herself, she pointed out the abuse of filing of false charges and other irregularities like the process of recusing judges — leading to lengthy delays — is a widespread problem.”
Ostreicher, a father of five who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., was arrested a year ago by Bolivian police after it was alleged that he did business with “people wanted in their countries because of links with drug trafficking and money laundering.” At the time, he belonged to a group of investors that sunk $25 million into growing rice in lush eastern Bolivia.
Smith, a leader in the House of Representatives on human trafficking issues, also met with Bolivian officials who prosecute sex trafficking.