Israeli accused of starting Chile fire denies blame

Rotem Zinger: “I am not responsible for the fire. They cast the blame on me and I did not confess to anything.”

January 2, 2012 04:26
1 minute read.
Rotem Zinger accused of starting Chile fire

Rotem Zinger 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

An Israeli man being held in Chile on suspicion of accidentally starting a forest fire on Sunday denied outright that he had anything to do with the blaze.

In an interview with Army Radio on Sunday, 23-year-old Rotem Zinger said “I am not responsible for the fire. They cast the blame on me and I did not confess to anything.”

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Zinger added that he thinks there may have been a mistake in translation, and that the Chilean authorities subjected him to a hasty “field trial.”

He told Army Radio that he was not able to properly communicate with his lawyer, did not understand the charges against him and that he did not give any testimony.

He also said that on the way to the courthouse he was harassed and cursed at by passersby and he feared for his safety.

Zinger told Army Radio that he has gone through a very difficult few days, but that his physical health is fine.

In a video released online Sunday, Zinger can be seen being led in handcuffs into a Chilean courtroom, as a crowd shouts obscenities and reportedly an anti-Semitic slur.

Earlier Sunday, Zinger’s father, Yehezkel Zinger, told Army Radio that his son played no role in the accident and “he doesn’t understand where the accusations came from.”

He added that his son was far away when the fire broke out and that if he had wanted to flee the country he could have.

Also on Sunday, Chilean prosecutors said that Zinger had confessed to negligence for starting the fire by not properly extinguishing a toilet-paper roll he lit in the park.

If he is found guilty, Zinger could face 41-60 days in jail and a fine of between $80-300.

So far the blaze in southern Patagonia has torched some 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) of the 180,000 hectare park.

The fire has led Chile to declare a state of emergency in the province.

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