Twenty-three-year-old Israeli Rotem Singer arrested last week on suspicion of causing a wildfire that burned down tens of thousands of acres of Chile's Torres del Paine National Park, has been conditionally released.
News reports from Israel's Haaretz and Ynet state that Singer was released this morning but is forbidden from the leaving the area. Authorities are holding his passport and Singer has to register at the police station twice a week. If convicted, he faces 41-60 days in prison and a $80-$300 fine.
‘Stinky Jew’ and ‘shitty Jew’ were some of the profanities thrown at Singer by locals in the court room of Puerto Natales.
The Israeli reports continue that Singer from Ness Ziona, a city south of Tel Aviv, was accused of lighting toilet paper to start a camp fire and causing the three day burning destruction that forced authorities to close the popular national park in the Chilean area of Patagonia. Nearly 600 firefighters worked at the scene and 400 tourists had to leave the park.
Gilad Harel, Singer's grandfather told Israeli news Ynet: "We know very little, he phoned himself and said he's in custody and facing a hearing. He sounded scared."
Although reported that Singer acknowledged that he may have accidentally started the fire, family and friends all say that he would not do something like this intentionally and language and poor legal instruction were against him at the time of police questioning.
Singer's father says they were told that the Israeli group of travellers that Singer was part of saw the fire coming towards them. The police questioned them about the blaze. Two days later the police came back ‘looking for a scapegoat’ to blame this disaster on, someone who could not understand or defend himself coherently in Spanish.
Israel's Ambassador to Chile David Dadon instructed the Israeli consul to travel to a city adjacent to the national park to handle Singer's case.
Ynet reports that the blaze destroyed approximately 11,000 hectares (27,200 acres) of woodland and scrub, nearly four percent of the total area of the famous for its mountains, lakes, prairielands, forests and glaciers. About 150,000 people visit the 240,000-hectare park annually.
According to Haaretz, President Sebastian Pinera declared the region a disaster area and requested aid from Argentina, Australia and the United States to help contain the fire.