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Jo Stuart
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These stories were published Tuesday, 4 September, 2001

A  bounty of bikes

The motorcyle clubs of San José
and nearby areas gather each
Sunday morning at 
Sabana Park to plan their
day's activities.

This week, it was a ride to
Cartago and participation
in a moto-rodeo there. 

Several Canadian and
U.S. citizens were in
attendance this

Arrests made in Curridabat murder of U.S. citizen 
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators have arrested two men in the death of Roy William Karsh, 61, of Curridabat, a U.S. citizen living here.

Officials arrested the two, both with the name Mora but unrelated, between midnight and 2 a.m. Saturday. Karsh's car provided the clue that led to the capture, investigators said.

An autopsy report said that Karsh, who was from Texas, died between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tuesday, according to Director Lineth Saborío of the Judicial Investigation Organization.

Her office held a press conference Monday to discuss the arrest and other cases.

Karsh was found at his home about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday by a part-time maid. 

Employees at the Gran Hotel Costa Rica in downtown San José said that Karsh was well known as a member of a group of U.S. citizens who frequently gather there for breakfast and coffee. 

One of the arrested men is 32 years old, and the other is 21, said Director Saborío. Karsh had known the younger man for at least six months, she said.

The autopsy showed that Karsh was strangled, said the director. Investigators at the time of the murder speculated that Karsh knew his killer because there was no sign of forced entry to the dwelling at Los Faroles de Curridabat.

The home was ransacked, and investigators learned that Karsh's green BMW automobile was missing. About 6 p.m. Wednesday investigators got a tip that the car was in a lot in Barrio Cuba, and they set up a surveillance, said Director Saborío.

Subsequent investigation showed that the car had been driven by a young woman who turned out to be the girlfriend of the younger Mora, investigators said. With that information, investigators began to watch both Moras, Director Saborío said. The woman has not been arrested.

The two men are in jail each for three months preventative detention while the investigation continues, investigators said. 

There was confusion about the cause of Karsh's death, said the director, because his body bore an unrelated, self-inflicted knife cut. He also injured his head, presumably in the struggle with his killer. That led to the incorrect theory published in some of the Spanish-language press that he had been stabbed, the director said. 

Bar owner in Playa Coco still kept in jail after shooting
A bar owner from Playa Coco remains in jail today because he shot a man who came at him with a knife.

The man in jail is Roger Morris Crouse, a Canadian, who operates Roger's Bar in the beach resort in northwest Guanacaste. 

The events leading up to his confinement took place two weeks ago.

The dead man was identified as Miguel Antonio Villegas Salguero, in his 30s. He had created a disturbance in the bar earlier in the evening. Police came and took him away and placed him in custody.

Inexplicably, police let him go in time for him to return to the bar about midnight and to come at Crouse with a knife, Crouse and a witness told investigators.

Crouse shot him with one bullet in the chest, and the bullet pierced the heart.

Crouse has been moved from local confinement to a penal facility on the outskirts of Liberia. 

According to some residents, threats against Crouse's life have been uttered in town in the wake of the shooting.  Friends continue to operate the bar on his behalf, residents said.

Adventure racing
on tap for Nicoya

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Hardbodies are gearing up for a harsh weekend on the Nicoya Peninsula in the first Nicoya Adventure Race.

The race is between 125 and 150 kilometers (75 to 90 miles) and includes mountain biking, coastal hiking, sea kayaking and caving, organizers said. Teams of four persons each tackle the challenge that is estimated to take about 24 hours

Samara, the base for the race, is a beach town on the Pacific Coast. Teams will pass through Samara several times during the race.

The race this weekend will be the third in a series. On Oct. 6, organizers plan the third running of a race centered on the nearby town of Soledad. In this race, two-person teams travel 72 kilometers (about 43 miles) through lush jungle, seas, rivers and mountains. A children's race is scheduled for Oct. 7, organizers said.

About 20 persons participated in the first race in 1999. This year, organizers said they expect from 200 to 300 participants.

The races are organized by Coast to Coasts Adventures which has been for eight years spearheading tourist trips unlike those of other companies. The trips eventually led to timed contests over the same or similar routes.

 "Itís a race that is designed to push one's limits, not only as  a team but also as an individual," said Say Leon Gamboa, the race safety director.  "The team has be well prepared to run hike, swim, paddle, climb , rappel and be fluent with a map and a compass. Think of a triathlon and add lots of team work and long hours of racing with no stop."

Contestants must pass specific control points where observers note their progress. 

In February, the organizers plan an ambitious coast-to-coast race from the Pacific to the Caribbean. Estimated time is about 48 hours for skilled racers. More information is available on the firm's website: http://www.adventureracingcostarica.com/

The firm operated more than  50 coast-to-coast trips in the last six years, and employees decided to try the route as a race. 

A local team won this year's practice race in April with a time of 35 hours and 58 minutes.

Teams began on the Pacific coast and crossed Costa Rica along a diverse route of 228 kilometers, involving three disciplines; 46 kilometers of hiking,118 kilometers of mountain biking and 64 kilometers of rafting, according to the firm's website.

A.M. Costa Rica photo
A workman raced up the new staircase at the Hotel Presidente in downtown San José where nearly a year-long construction project has transformed the structure. Soon to come are an expanded restaurant and a casino on the second floor.

Big drug web busted,
OIJ chief announces

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators said Monday they had broken up a ring of drug smugglers with a six-month probe that resulted in the arrest of nine persons.

Director Lineth Saborío of the Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ) invited newspeople to her office Monday to view the 96 kilos (211 pounds) of drugs confiscated in the probe.

Costa Rica investigators were proud of the fact that the entire investigation was done in this country and without any help from outside agencies, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Director Saborío said the probe began in March and uncovered a web of drug transportation by motor vehicles from Panama through San José and Coronado to the Nicaraguan border.  Nearly 80 packages of cocaine and marijuana, money and some weapons were put on display by investigators. 

Central to the network was a home in Coronado as well as a finca in San Pedro de Coronado, said investigators. The investigation continues because some members of the ring might be involved in other types of crimes, they said.

Of the nine arrested, the majority are Costa Rican, but several are Colombian and one is Guatemalan, investigators said. All are jailed for preventative detention,

Brazilian research facility facing possible shutdown over money
By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

One of the world's top institutions specializing in Amazon research is in danger of shutting down much of its operations because funding from the Brazilian government is not forthcoming. 

Brazil's National Institute for Amazon Research has almost run out of money for the year, a victim of government austerity measures. 

Known by its Portuguese acronym INPA, the Manaus-based institute has some 240 scientists, including some Americans, working on projects related to environmental conservation and sustainable development of the Amazon rainforest. Research papers published by these scientists have brought world attention to the Institute. 

But INPA is on the verge of shutting down many of its operations, if the  federal government cannot come up with extra funding to meet the institute's maintenance costs.

Charles Clement, an American who is INPA's planning chief, said because  federal funding has not kept up with soaring utility costs, money alloted for research is now being used to pay for maintenance. He says this means  INPA's research targets are not being met because the money is being used  to pay for utility bills. 

Clement says if the Brazilian government cannot come up with  $1.8 million by later this month to pay  the rest of the year's utility bills, much of INPA will shut down.

"We're not talking about large amounts of money here, when we take into account that the Brazilian  science budget, for example, is  around $1 billion," Clement said. "So if biodiversity is important, if Amazonia is important, then funding for this  institute should be important."

INPA does receive money from the Smithsonian Insitution in Washington,  which funds certain projects. Clement said about $2 million comes from outside sources like the Smithsonian. But the bulk of INPA's money, about $5 million a year, is provided by Brazil's Ministry of Science  Technology.

 Government spending under President Fernando Henrique Cardoso has been cut dramatically in recent years. A new loan agreement reached with  the International Monetary Fund late last month is likely to mean further austerity cuts.

If INPA is forced to shut off its lights next month, Clement says the first victims will be the institute's plant and animal collections. This would include more than a dozen Amazon river manatees that are housed in INPA's Science Park, a popular local attraction. 

Wrong time,
wrong place
and wrong bank
A man tried to break into a downtown San José bank early Monday, but he picked a bank across the street from the Costa Rican Supreme Court Building on Avenida 8. 

Passersby saw the man acting suspiciously and alerted Judicial Investigation Organization agents who also work across the street in the bank theft division.  Soon the man, whose name was not released, was in the hands of police. 

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