Bolivia: Hearing Delays for U.S. Citizen Jacob Ostreicher
QUESTION: Do we have a status update on the case of Jacob Ostreicher?
ANSWER: Mr. Ostreicher has been held by Bolivian authorities pending possible trial since June 3, 2011. Consular officers who visit Mr. Ostreicher whenever he permits them to do so, most recently on June 29, are available by phone at any time, and stand ready to visit more frequently. Consular officers have also attended every hearing in his case, more than 20 to date.
U.S. officials have been in frequent contact with Bolivian officials at the highest levels to advocate for due process under Bolivian law. We have repeatedly urged, and will continue to urge, the Bolivian Government to ensure a fair, transparent, and prompt judicial processing of Mr. Ostreicher’s case. Senior Department officials in Washington and at our Embassy in La Paz have made these points repeatedly, directly, and unequivocally to senior officials in the Bolivian Government.
We are dismayed that the Bolivian executive branch filed – for the second time – a motion to recuse the trial judge. This most recent delay once again prevented the judge from hearing Mr. Ostreicher’s motion to be released on bail. This is particularly troubling because the Bolivian Government had indicated that the hearing would occur without any procedural hurdles.
Mr. Ostreicher’s guilt or innocence will be decided by the Bolivian judicial system. However, the Bolivian Government should permit the judicial system to function properly and allow Mr. Ostreicher’s motion be heard on its merits. The Bolivian Government’s actions are deeply regrettable, and are resulting in unacceptable delays. We urge the Bolivian Government to act swiftly to correct this situation by holding the bail hearing immediately and advancing the judicial process without delay.