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(506) 2223-1327        Published Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 206       E-mail us
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New program swiftly puts trio of crooks on street
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The judiciary's swift justice process whisked three more individuals through court and onto the streets Wednesday. That followed by a day the first conviction of a criminal under the program. He got out of jail, too.

Meanwhile, the Poder Judicial released a glowing critique of the process by the first victim.

The case Wednesday was decided a little more than 24 hours after four persons were arrested. They were accused of taking a gas measuring device worth about $7,200 from a mechanics shop in Coronado Tuesday.

The case again was in the Tribunal Penal de Flagrancias, a special court set up to handle cases when the suspects have been caught in the act or nearly so. The four individuals were charged with aggravated theft because the crime involved more than three thieves, said the Poder Judicial.

Three persons distracted employees of the store while the fourth person stole the device, the Poder Judicial said. Those detained were identified as Josefa Pérez Alemán, a Nicaraguan, David Jurado García, a Mexican, Arturo Sotero Cáceres, a Peruvian, and Ricardo Jiménez Bonilla, a Costa Rican.

They were grabbed by agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization within 300 meters (less than 1,000 feet) from the crime scene, said the Poder Judicial.

Because the suspects chose to participate in an abbreviated process, they were before judges the next day, Wednesday, and the court conviction and sentence came down Wednesday afternoon.

All four were found guilty and sentenced to eight months in prison. But again under Costa Rican law, all but Pérez Alemán were awarded conditional freedom on the condition that they are not convicted again for three years. Pérez Alemán has a record of the same offense, so he was bound over for prison, the Poder Judicial said.

The trio shared the same outcome as the robber who took a cell phone from an 18-year-old woman and became the first person to be convicted under the new program. The robber was identified as Gredy Alberto Chaves González. He received conditional liberty Tuesday.

The cell phone robbery happened Oct. 6 in Alajuelita centro.

The Poder Judicial said that the first actual trial to take place in the Tribunal de Juicio de Flagrancia will be next Tuesday. The case involves a man
robbery victim
Robbery victim, her face deliberately cropped out in this Poder Judicial photo, displays cell telephone that led to first swift justice case.

with the last names of Vega Portilla who is accused of taking the wallet and purse from a couple with the last names of Delvaux and Pérez. This happened Oct. 5 in San Rafael de Guachipelín in Escazú, said the Poder Judicial.

All the cases that have been finished since the start of the program Oct. 1 involve criminals admitting their guilt.

The Poder Judicial Wednesday released an account of a brief interview with the woman who had her cell phone stolen in Alajuelita. The woman, identified by her first name of Cinthia, said she was made to feel comfortable by judicial authorities. She characterized the process as effective and rapid.  She also said she was pleased that the suspect was jailed for preventative detention on the day of the crime.

What she might not know is that a judge originally let the man, Chaves, go free, but the prosecutor got him jailed by appealing to a higher court.

She also said that the robber could not identify her and could not take action against her later, the Poder Judicial said. That is why she was identified by her first name. But the Poder Judicial identified her by her last name in a press release the day before.

The interview revealed that the man grabbed her cell phone while she was using it and dragged her several yards because she would not let go of the device, according to the Poder Judicial summary. A Fuerza Pública patrol was nearby.

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Battle over trade treaty
comes down to one bill

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The battle over the free trade treaty is coming down to the final piece of implementing legislation.

Lawmakers met to consider the measure Wednesday, but not enough showed up. They will try again today with the goal of having a vote on the measure at least by early next week.

The measure is the intellectual property bill that would bring Costa Rican law into conformity with what is required by the free trade treaty with the United States and other Central American countries. Opponents to the treaty will try to torpedo the bill in the hopes that this will collapse the trade treaty.

Eventually the United States must certify that Costa Rica has brought its laws into conformity for the treaty to take effect.

The intellectually property bill covers issues like copyright, music, counterfeit CDs, fake clothes labels and other types of intangible ownership.

The Sala IV constitutional court already found one section to be unconstitutional, and lawmakers, who passed the measure once, are trying to work around that decision.

The United States and other treaty countries have granted Costa Rica another three-month extension on the deadline to approve the implementing legislation. Originally there were  13 laws. All but the intellectual property measure has passed and been found constitutional by the Sala IV.

Rodrigo Arias, minister of the Presidencia, expressed his frustration Wednesday when he accused Ottón Solís, the leader of the Partido Acción Ciudadana, of trying to sabotage the legislation.  Solís said that he would ask the Sala IV to take another look at the final legislation. Acción Ciudadana has been a continual opponent of the trade treaty and has 17 lawmakers in the legislature who consistently vote against trade treaty matters.

For Arias, this is just a way to slow down the process and keep the treaty from entering into force, he said. The Sala IV already looked over the legislation and said what changes needed to me made, Rodrigo Arias said.

The minister of the Presidencia has another bone to pick with Solís. Arias called him irresponsible to have said that there are business people who are linked to narcotrafficking and who favor the free trade treaty.

Solís made the comments Tuesday after a legislative appearance. The suggestion was that some of this money was used to promote a favorable vote last Oct. 7 in the national referendum for the free trade treaty. The agreement passed by a narrow margin.

Solís has not been very visible in the battle against the trade treaty, but he is becoming more public now with an eye to running for president in the 2010 elections.

Date for Heredia train
pushed ahead to January

By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The train between San José and eastern Heredia will start in January of 2009, officials hope. The Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles bought four diesel engines from Spain for about 500,000 euros, about $680,000.

Karla Gonzáles, minister of Obras Públicas y Transportes, said that it is impossible start the train in December, as had been announced, but the ministry did have a plan to reinstitute the route during the first month of 2009.

Ms. Gonzáles said that the ministry soon will announce bidding to give the Heredia route to a private company as a concession. Officials want to create an electric train system, in the principal city in Costa Rica.

The train between San José and Heredia is a first step of the electric plan. Meanwhile, the engines will use diesel. Last January, the ministry and its Consejo Nacional de Concesiones, paid $1.2 million to the Brazilian company Engevix to study the line train and the electric train's possibilities.

Engevix is studying the lines, system, bridges, profitability, operation system and how many people will use the train. The line runs from the Estación al Atlántico near Parque Nacional in San José north through Tibás and into eastern Heredia, Santo Domingo. The train is expected to provide some relief for the Heredia traffic, most of which is channeled through Heredia centro.

Slide knocks out Internet

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad said Wednesday that a landslide between Palmares and San Ramón knocked out wide band Internet service to the central Pacific, the northern zone and the Chorotega region of Guanacaste. The line involved is a fiber optic one, the company said. There was no estimate given on when service would be restored.

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Mother Nature shows no mercy as downpours continue
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A low pressure area is hanging over Honduras generating frequent rain in Costa Rica. The nation's weather agency said Wednesday that conditions will remain about the same for at least two more days.

In response, the national emergency commission has extended its highest alert level to Corredores, Golfito, Coto Brus, Buenos Aires and Pérez Zeledón in the south; Paraíso, El Guarco, Oreamuno and Cartago centro in the Provincia de Cartago; Parrita, Aguirre and Garabito in the central Pacific; Desamparados, Puriscal, Dota, Tarrazú and León Cortés in the Provincia de San José; Siquirres in the Provincia de Limón; Upala in the northern zone and all the cantons in the Provincia de Guanacaste.

The extent of the national emergency has not been fully evaluated, and much of the rest of the country remains under lesser alerts.

In the southern Pacific entire areas are cut off. The Río Ceibo destroyed a bridge at Buenos Aires de Puntarenas and alternate routes are in bad shape, said the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias. Consequently some 250 mostly Native Costa Rican families are cut off.

These include the communities of Santa María, Santa Cruz, Ujarrás, San Vicente, Guanacaste, La Piedra and El Carmen. Schools have been closed there because teachers cannot get to work.

Rising rivers are a danger all over the country. The rains
have been falling in many places since Sunday.  Some 125 communities have suffered some damage, mostly flooding. More than 600 persons are in shelters according to the emergency commission's Wednesday afternoon count.

The usual culprits are the principal concerns. These include the Río Tempisque that drains into the Gulf of Nicoya, the Río Parrita that drains into the central Pacific and frequently floods the town of the same name, and the Paquita that flows near Quepos.  Filadelfia in Guanacaste was suffering from flooding by the Tempisque. Parts of Parrita still are underwater. Quepos reports flooding, too.

In all, the emergency commission has expressed concern about 12 rivers that are at flood stage. A number of bridges have been damaged. The storm generated a slide on the Interamerica highway at Miramar early Wednesday, but the road was reopened by midday, officials said.

The reports of emergencies run from Pérez Zeledón and Corredores in the south to the Cantón de La Cruz in extreme northwest Costa Rica and Upala in far north central Costa Rica.

The extent of the disaster will not be known for a few days when the rains diminish and evaluators can reach all sections of the country. Now some 54 stretches of road are either washed out or covered by slides, so getting around is difficult.

The low pressure area, officially designated No. 16, did not move northwest as had been predicted Tuesday. Instead it appears to have stalled over Honduras and moved to the west and south. That is why Costa Rica is getting drenched.

Teens held in shooting that used homemade weapon
By Elyssa Pachico
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three minors were taken into custody Wednesday  morning at La Carpio in Uruca, suspected of shooting off another boy's index finger.

The shooting occurred Sept. 30, during a fight between various students in a school in Barrio Mexico. The three youths, ages 13, 14 and 15, are suspected of using a homemade shotgun to shoot a 16-year-old, identified by the last name Román, in the right hand.

His index finger was amputated as a result of his injury, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Based on interviews with neighbors, agents raided each suspect's house Wednesday morning. In one house, officials discovered three homemade rifles and various articles of clothing, which officials say link the youths to
homemade shotguns
Judicial Investigating Organization photo
Here are two homemade shotguns agents confiscated Wednesday.

the shooting. The clothes are presumably stained with blood.

Investigations will continue, as officials say there is at least one more suspect whom they have yet to identify.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 206

Three developing nations criticize those who provoked crisis
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The leaders of India, Brazil and South Africa have criticized rich countries for failing to act quickly to prevent the global financial meltdown. At a summit in New Delhi, they urged Western nations to manage the crisis in a manner that will not hurt their developing economies.

After the leaders of India, South Africa and Brazil wrapped up a summit in New Delhi Wednesday, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva expressed fears that developing countries will not escape if the West is hit by a deep recession triggered by the financial crisis.

The Brazilian leader says it is unfair that poorer nations will have to pay for the irresponsibility of financial speculators in rich countries.

He says the three countries will talk to friends in the U.S. and European Union to take steps so that the effects of the crisis do not reach "less developed countries which did not participate in this financial casino."

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe was equally scathing, saying the ill-conceived decisions of a few have brought the international financial system to the brink of collapse with dire consequences for developing countries.
The three countries say the voice of emerging nations should be heard on how to manage the crisis.
In a summit declaration, the three countries called for a new international initiative to solve the problem. They say they want tighter financial regulation, and stronger systems of multinational consultations and surveillance.

The finance ministers and governors of central banks of the three countries plan to meet to coordinate their response to the crisis.

The three countries say they will cooperate to protect their economies, which they say have enough financial reserves and positive trade balances. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the three countries will boost trade.

"The current crisis affecting the international economy has made it that much more important for us to explore one another's markets for mutually beneficial opportunities. It is our expectation that the target of $15 billion for trade by the year 2010 would be achieved. We have accordingly agreed to set a target for trilateral trade of $25 billion by 2015."

The three countries also called for revival of negotiations on world trade talks.

Wednesday's summit was the third between the three countries, which meet annually to boost cooperation and develop common positions on global issues such as world trade talks.

Retired general in Chile sentenced to prison for role in Pinochet-era murders
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Chile's supreme court has sentenced a retired army general to six years in prison in connection to the Pinochet-era military death squad known as the Caravan of Death.

Gen. Sergio Arellano Stark and four other ex-soldiers were convicted of murdering four people after the 1973 coup that brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power. The court ordered them jailed for four to six years each. Another two defendants were acquitted.

Arellano Stark led the military committee dubbed the Caravan of Death, which toured the country after the coup
ordering the deaths of suspected leftist dissidents. Official reports say it killed more than 90 people.

Pinochet himself was put under house arrest in 2001 in connection with the case. It was the only time he was ever detained in Chile over abuses stemming from his repressive 17-year military dictatorship.

A Chilean government report found that the regime killed more than 3,000 people in the Pinochet era and tortured some 28,000.

Pinochet left office in 1990 but remained head of the army for another seven years. He died in 2006 at 91.

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Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.


The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.


A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.


Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

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Ticos among those held
after U.S. immigration raid

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Department of Justice said that Costa Ricans were among the 331 persons arrested during an immigration sweep of a Columbia Farms poultry processing plant in Greenville, South Carolina, last week.

The sweep was part of a 10-month investigation into the firm's employment practices. The raid was by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents working with a federal criminal search warrant.

Of the 331 arrested, 11 (two females and nine males), including one plant supervisor, face criminal charges for various crimes including re-entry after deportation, aggravated identity theft, counterfeit documents and false statements, said the Department of Justice. All have been transferred to federal custody.

All of those administratively arrested have been interviewed, fingerprinted, and  photographed and processed for removal from the United States, the agency said. The females arrested were transferred to the Atlanta City Detention Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and the males were transferred to the Stuart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia.

Six juveniles were found to be in the country illegally. Three are from Mexico, and three are from Guatemala.

In addition to the unspecified number of Costa Ricans, those arrested came from Guatemala, Mexico,  Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia and Hungary, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

U.S. bishops ask Bush
to give Haitians protection

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is calling on U.S. President George Bush to allow citizens of disaster-stricken Haiti to remain temporarily in the United States. In a letter made public this week, the Catholic organization said Haiti qualifies for what is known as temporary protected status.

Haitians who apply for and receive this designation would be allowed to continue to live and work in the United States for a period of time, regardless of their previous immigration status.

The letter notes the humanitarian challenges facing Haiti following a food crisis and a series of storms that hit the country over the past few months. It says these events have left Haiti in a situation that is as bad as, or worse than, other countries that have been given temporary protected status designation, such as El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras.

Protected status can be given to citizens of certain countries affected by extraordinary conditions, such as natural disasters or armed conflict, but it does not lead to permanent residency.

Jo Stuart
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