in Jairo Mora case were unexpected
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
There was widespread surprise and condemnation Monday when a court in
Limón acquitted seven men in the murder of environmentalist
Jairo Mora Sandoval.
The Poder Judicial quickly noted the verdict is subject to appeal and
that the president of the Corte Suprema de Justicia, Zarela Villanueva
Monge, said the law gives judges independence.
The trial panel said that there were errors in the investigation of the
case and the safeguarding of evidence. Some lawmakers are calling for
an appearance by Jorge Chavarría, the fiscal general de la
República, Carmen Zúñiga, the fiscal of the
Tribunal de Juicio in Limón, and Francisco Segura, director of
the Judicial Investigating Organization.
Marcela Guerrero Campos of the Partido Acción Ciudadana said the
acquittal on technical grounds damages the image of Costa Rica.
Perhaps the most outspoken was Paul Watson, the founder of the Sea
Shepherd Conservation Society. He called the verdict a sad, sad day for
justice in Costa Rica.
"It is not surprising that the seven men charged with
the murder of
Jairo Mora Sandoval have been acquitted," Watson said on a Facebook
page. "Evidence was conveniently lost, and the court made numerous
errors, and although these men clearly are responsible for killing
Jairo, they get to walk, although four of them will serve time for rape
and robbery of tourists
same beach. All seven were acquitted of
murder, kidnapping, sexual ...assault and robbery involving Jairo Mora
Sandoval and the volunteer women turtle conservationists working with
He called Jairo Mora a martyr and added "he is in my opinion the
greatest conservation hero in the history of Costa Rica, and the system
has failed him, and it did so because of corruption and politics. The
narco-poachers have won again, not surprising — they have the money,
the power and the ruthless determination to advance their greed at all
The case began May 31, 2013 when Mora and volunteers were
a Caribbean beach, Playa Moín, on a mission to protect
were confronted by men who took Mora away and held the volunteers
hostage for a time in a nearby dwelling.
The judges said that both the prosecution and investigators lacked
rigor in handling evidence including breaks in the chain of custody.
Problems also existed in the presentation of the case of the three U.S.
volunteers and a Spanish woman who were held hostage while Mora was
dragged to his death at the nearby beach.
The judges cited errors in the handling of wiretap results including a
lack of attributing ownership of certain cell phones to the accused.
Three of the accused are free, but four others were convicted of
robbery and holding people against their will. They will serve terms
ranging up to 27 years.
York has seen some big snow storms before
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica
My grandfather, visiting the north Jersey areas for Christmas from
Scranton, Pennsylvania, picked the wrong time to get ill. The
doctor said appendix and put him in St. Francis Hospital for Christmas
As the extended family gathered around the tree Christmas evening, as
was the custom, we thought a lot about Papa Tom and not much about the
quiet snow beginning to fall outside.
We were unaware that this was the start of the Great Blizzard of 1947.
Eventually there would be three feet of snow on the ground and drifts
The New York newspapers were making comparisons to the Blizzard of '88
that paralyzed the region for weeks.
My grandfather recovered well despite the fact he was portly. The big
problem was visiting him. Transportation was snowed in. A few
brave sons and daughters managed to hike in the heavy snow to the
hospital to confirm his well being.
For schoolkids, as I was at the time, the storm was at first a big
After all, classes already were canceled for the
holidays, and the snow
would be gone by the time schools reopened
New York Public Library photo
Motorist digs out after
Unlike the storm that is hitting the northeastern United States today,
there was no warning in 1947. There were no satellites to track
storm, and the blizzard snuck in from the Atlantic after having picked
up strength from the Gulf Stream. That is an unexpected direction for
northeastern storms because most of the weather comes from the west.
Papa Tom missed all the fun. By the time he exited the hospital, the
streets were cleared and public transportation was back to normal.
Snowmen dotted the landscape as did temporary ramps for sledding.
The blizzard was just an act of nature, folks said then. No one blamed
global warming or climate change.