Rotem Singer, 23, denies starting blaze at Patagonia national park Torres del Paine
"It wasn't me, they put the blame on me, they didn't translate most of what was going on. I had a local lawyer who spoke Spanish and I didn't quite understand what I was accused of. I didn't give any testimony." The Israeli backpacker described the reactions he got from locals while being escorted to court, saying the crowd shouted "asshole" and "Jew" at him,while several locals tried to attack him as he was leaving the courthouse.
Israeli suspect's friend: No way he caused Chile wildfire - Friend who hiked with Rotem Singer in Torres del Paine National Park says 'he is certain tissue he burned was extinguished.' Suspect's father: Chilean authorities looking for scapegoat.
Chile senator demands compensation 'if Israeli tourist started fire' - Alejandro Navarro notes Czech government paid Chile nearly $200,000 after one of its citizens caused fire similar to one Rotem Singer is accused of causing.
Chile battles multiple wildfires; arson suspected - Firefighters in Chile battle several fires, over 32,000 acres lost; investigators believe arsonists involved. Developments may impact Israeli tourist's case.
Israel offers aid to restore national park - Israel noted that it identifies with Chile following a similar disaster in Israel's Carmel Forest and added that it offered Chile aid through a delegation of forestation experts.
Israeli tourist Rotem Singer, 23, suspected of starting a wildfire at Chile's Patagonia national park Torres del Paine, denied the allegations against him during a radio interview. "It wasn't me, they put the blame on me. I supposedly confessed, but I didn't really confess," he told the Army Radio station Galatz on Sunday.
Singer is expected to report to a Chilean police station once a week and his passport has been taken away from him. The Israeli backpacker described the reactions he got from locals while being escorted to court, saying the crowd shouted "asshole" and "Jew" at him.
"They attacked my on my way back from court. I was really afraid I'd be hurt," he said.
As for the investigation, Singer explained he had no idea what was going on. "I have an English translator but somehow the whole thing just evolved. I didn't really understand how I became the main suspect. I didn't think the trial would be conducted the way that it did. They didn't translate most of what was going on. I had a local lawyer who spoke Spanish and I didn't quite understand what I was accused of. I didn't give any testimony."
Israeli suspect's friend: No way he caused Chile wildfire - "The fire erupted on Tuesday at six in the evening and no one dealt with it until the following morning," said Mandi Gisser, a friend of the Israeli who is suspected of causing the massive wildfire in Chile's Torres del Paine National Park.
Speaking to Army Radio on Sunday, Gisser said Chilean authorities claim the fire erupted when Rotem Singer left burning toilet paper on the ground after going to the bathroom. "Rotem is certain that the tissue paper he had lit was extinguished. There is no way it lit up again."
Singer burned the toilet paper because Chilean authorities request that hikers do not leave any behind.
Firefighters in Chile are still battling 48 wildfires that have burned over 32,000 acres of forest, destroyed more than 100 homes and have driven away thousands of tourists while causing millions of dollars in losses.
Chile's President Sebastian Pinera declared the Magallanes Region, where the Torres del Paine National Park is, as the disaster area.
The fires are now considered to be the work of arsonists. "This is very strange and naturally, the government is very concerned," Agriculture Minister Luis Mayol told reporters on Monday.
President Pinera added that the country faces "a situation of extreme vulnerability," adding that he will demand toughening the sentences given for arson.
Chile fire: Israel offers aid to restore national park - The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday published an official statement that addressed the Torres del Paine National Park fire, rejecting Chilean calls for Israel to remunerate Chile for the damages. The ministry said that Israel will plant seedlings in the Chilean nature reserve hit by wildfires but will not send Chile compensation.
In the statement, Israel noted that it identifies with Chile following a similar disaster in Israel's Carmel Forest and added that it offered Chile aid through a delegation of forestation experts.
"Israel had experienced a similar disaster last year with the Carmel fire and the painful memory sharpens the sense of a shared fate," the announcement stated.
"The deep friendship that the Israeli people feel towards Chile is stronger than ever, and on its basis we are interested in sending a delegation of experts in the field of forestation to assist their colleagues in any way they can."
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