Daily Israel Report

Israeli Who Was Arrested in Chile: I Didn't Start the Fire

Rotem Singer, the Israeli who was arrested in Chile for causing a forest fire: I was falsely accused.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/2/2012, 6:16 AM

Rotem Singer, the Israeli tourist who was arrested in Chile on suspicion of negligently causing a huge forest fire in the in the Torres de Paine national park, said Sunday that he was not responsible in any way for starting the fire.

In an interview with Army Radio shortly after his release on bail Singer said, “I must emphasize that I am not responsible for starting the fire. I was blamed for it and did not confess to anything. There may have been a translation problem or maybe they were trying to get me to say things I did not mean to say.”

He added, “They held a very unpleasant field trial in a few short hours. They did not provide any evidence and I did not quite understand what I was accused of.”

Singer told Army Radio that, contrary to standard procedure, the evidence against him was not translated for him and he was given a local lawyer who speaks only Spanish, a language in which Singer is not fluent.

He added, “Bystanders cursed me and I was really scared that they would hit me as well. I went through some very difficult times, but other tourists who were here strengthened me.”

On Saturday, Chilean authorities announced they had arrested Singer and that he had acknowledged a part in negligently allowing the fire to start.

One report said Singer admitted to lighting toilet paper on fire and failing to put it out properly. The report said he was released under restrictions, one of them not being allowed to leave the area he is currently staying at for a period of three months.

Singer told Army Radio that the Israeli Foreign Ministry has gotten involved in his case and is trying to help him.

“I’m just glad that I was released and hope everything works out in a few days,” he said. “I am in contact with the local ambassador and my family will visit me soon, although I do not want to be a burden to anyone.”

He added, “Physically I feel good and I am waiting to get a lawyer so that everything will become clear.”