President Varela commutes Okke Ornstein’s prison sentence
by Eric Jackson et al
[Editor’s note: Okke Ornstein’s name appeared on a list of prisoners who will be released before Christmas by virtue of presidential sentence commutaions or grants of parole. Ornstein’s release is a reduction of sentence, rather than a full pardon. There may still be ongoing legal consequences or proceedings, depending on decisions to be made by Ornstein and by the government. What’s possible, what’s affordable and what’s worthwhile are three separate things, each to be looked at from two different perspectives. The following is from an email sent by Ornstein’s most loyal supporters to others who stood by him in various ways.]
We’re thrilled to be writing you with great news: Okke will be released this week!
He is #159 on the list of people who are serving sentences and who have just been pardoned by President Varela. Panama’s Ministry of Government announced the presidential pardons on its website this morning.
The presidential pardon absolves Okke of the “crimes against honor” conviction that led to his arrest and a 20-month prison sentence. While Monte Friesner’s lawsuit against Okke should never have gotten this far to begin with, we’re of course relieved that the pardon will free Okke. Once he’s out, Okke will pursue a principled resolution by taking his case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Thank you for being a huge part of #FreeOkkeOrnstein. Your initiatives and support helped apply pressure in the right places at the right times. Friends, we did it!
We are truly grateful for all the diplomatic and advocacy initiatives taken on Okke’s behalf. The transparency, free press and human rights organizations played a major role in making Okke’s situation an urgent matter for the Panamanian government. Under the sophisticated leadership of Ambassador Dirk Janssen, the Dutch Embassy in Panama worked tirelessly to formulate solutions. We would have been lost without the expertise and guidance of Ambassador Janssen’s team.
As noted on the Donate page of our campaign website, Kimberlyn is managing the financial aspects of Okke’s legal affairs. She initially planned to provide all donors with a final accounting after the dust settled a bit, yet she is opening that up to everyone on this list now. You can find every receipt and funding source to-date listed in this Google Drive folder. The accounting should be self-explanatory, as the folders are clearly labeled and organized, but Kimberlyn would gladly answer any questions about it (the $0 amounts on the Expense Sheet are donations in-kind — we wanted to show these forms of generosity too!).
We share the accounting now for a couple of important reasons. One is that some troubled people are publishing libelous claims that we are running a scam (we will be addressing their claims through the appropriate civil channels). The other is that we are facing a burdensome debt for Okke’s legal fees, and we would appreciate any additional monetary support that anyone can offer.
We’re waiting for news about whether a case involving a deceased person (Clyde Jenkins) will be heard this week. Stay tuned… For now, you can look forward to hearing from Okke when he gets out of Renacer.
In deep gratitude,
Kimberlyn David and Esther Ornstein
(Okke’s partner and oldest daughter, respectively)
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