An A.M. Costa Rica reprint
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 25, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 147

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Contents copyrighted 2008 by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. (cédula juridica 3-101-290-170).  Republication without permission is prohibited under U.S. and Costa Rican laws and international conventions.

U.S. Embassy expresses its displeasure at Tomayko decision
By Elise Sonray
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Embassy was not happy with the security minister's decision on extradition, said unidentified U.S. officials in a document released Thursday. And U.S. officials delivered a veiled threat over the pending free trade treaty.

The embassy statement came 24 hours after the security minister, Janina Del Vecchio, granted refugee status to Chere Lyn Tomayko, a U.S. citizen wanted by a U.S. federal court to face a parental kidnapping charge. Ms. Del Vecchio admitted that she did not talk to anyone other than Tomayko family members or supporters before making her decision. She said the case was one of domestic violence and human rights. The case originated in Fort Worth, Texas, more than 11 years ago.

A letter from a reader HERE!

The case also generated a flurry of legal actions. But the court in Heredia refused to order the release of Ms. Tomayko, who Thursday night still was in Buen Pastor women's prison where she has been for 10 months while she fights extradition to the United States.

The U.S. embassy responded with the statement which also addressed human rights:

“The protection of fundamental human rights was a cornerstone in the creation of the United States as a country more than 200 years ago. We are in absolute disagreement with the implicit assumption that the U.S. judicial system could not protect Ms. Tomayko against any alleged or potential abuse.

"The records should show that Ms. Tomayko was on the FBI list of 10 most wanted for child abduction.”

The statement also said, “We are very concerned about the implications that this decision will have on the obligations of international treaties to Costa Rica and under the bilateral judicial cooperation with the United States.”

One such international agreement is the free trade treaty with the United States and other Central American nations. The pact has not yet gone into force in Costa Rica.

Wednesday, when asked about the free trade treaty in light of the country's rupture of  an international child kidnapping treaty, the security minister said using the
treaty's initials: “Don't unite this issue with CAFTA. I have
been very clear of my position on that treaty. This is very different it's an issue of human rights.”

The Tarrant Country, Texas, judge who decided the Tomayko custody case 11 years ago, William W. Harris, coincidentally is an appointee and strong supporter of the former governor of that state, U.S. President George Bush. The judge ordered joint custody, and Ms. Tomayko fled with her daughter.

A judge in Heredia finally ruled Thursday afternoon that Ms. Tomayko must stay in prison at least until pending habeas corpus actions are resolved by the Sala IV constitutional court, according to Fabían Barrantes, a spokesman for Poder Judicial. 

Others who are not happy with the ruling include the father of the child, Alexandria, whom Ms. Tomayko was accused of kidnapping in 1997. The father, Roger Cyprian, a nurse in Texas, has hired a Costa Rican lawyer to fight for his interests. He denies being an aggressor, and said that Ms. Tomayko exaggerates.

Cyprian's lawyer, Juan Carlos Esquivel, said what the security minister did Thursday is illegal and an embarrassment to anyone in the Costa Rican judicial field. Esquivel said he filed an action Thursday seeking that the extradition process continue. An action against the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública and the Tribunal de Juicio was filed in the constitutional court Thursday morning by lawyer Arcelio Hernández Mussio, said a court spokeswoman.

The Defensoría Pública filed a habeas corpus action to get Ms. Tomayko out of prison. This public body has represented her.  Marta Iris Muñoz Cascante, the director of the agency, said the fact that Ms. Tomayko received refugee status based on the domestic violence claim was well known. She said that the appropriate documents were filed with the  Tribunal Penal de Heredia, which has original jurisdiction in the case. The appeal is designed to have the constitutional court intervene and order the release.

The U.S. Embassy's attitude notwithstanding, Ms. Tomayko lived openly in Costa Rica. Embassy employees were told of her whereabouts  at least as long ago as 2002, but did not take any action until after the child who was abducted celebrated her 18th birthday. Embassy officials have never said why they failed to act, although it is clear that Ms. Tomayko's claim of domestic violence influenced a lot of people in Costa Rica.