Bolivia: corruption saga continues
Prosecutors ordered the arrest of magistrate Ariel Rocha -- the highest judicial official implicated in the scandal -- after he failed to appear before an investigating commission, reports the newspaper USA Today.
New York businessman Jacob Ostreicher, 53, alleges that tens of millions of dollars in rice, cattle and farm equipment were stolen from him by the corrupt officials.
Many of the officials who led the prosecution -- including the top legal adviser in the Interior Ministry – are now themselves in gaol after being accused of taking part in a ‘shakedown ring’.
Mr Ostreicher, who was first gaoled in June 2011, is now under house arrest in his Santa Cruz home after a judge released him on Tuesday. ‘Faith and family is what got me through this nightmare, and it will probably take me a while to deal with it. That's why I still don't have a smile on my face. It's sad,’ Mr Ostreicher told the newspaper. ‘I feel totally destroyed. I have 11 grandchildren that I haven't seen in almost two years.’
The businessman thanked US Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez of New York, after they both visited Bolivia to call for his release. He also thanked actor Sean Penn, who days ago made a public appeal to Bolivian President Evo Morales to order him freed.
Mr Ostreicher said his lawyers expect the case to be dropped within the next month, and he then hopes to return to New York. He added he hasn't recouped any of the assets stolen from him.