Seven men who were charged with the May 2013 murder of Costa Rican sea turtle activist Jairo Mora Sandoval were acquitted of the crime January 26. The
Seven men who were charged with the May 2013 murder of Costa Rican sea turtle activist Jairo Mora Sandoval were acquitted of the crime January 26. The judge cited reasonable doubt and “faults in handling of evidence,” and other issues related to the investigation, according to the New York Times. The death of Mora Sandoval received wide international news coverage, most likely due to the violent nature of his death as well as the perceptions that Costa Rica is a very safe place to visit.
The seven men were acquitted of kidnapping, robbery, sexual assault, and murder. Four of the men Hectór Cash, Ernesto Centeno, José Bryan Delgado and Donald Salmon will serve prison sentences for a prior rape and robbery on the same beach.
Mora Sandoval was 26 at the time he, three American women and a woman from Spain, were kidnapped on the beach. He worked as a beach monitor for the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network, WIDECAST, protecting sea turtle nests and the beaches in which they nest from egg poachers. At the time of his death, a reward was offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for his death.
Todd Steiner, executive director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network issued the following statement.
“We are outraged that nearly two years later, there has been no justice for brutal murder of Jairo…. We call on the Costa Rican government to appeal the decision and find a way to convict these criminals of this heinous crime, or locate and convict those responsible. Failure to do so can have serious consequences for conservation and ecotourism in this nation that has built its reputation on its peace with nature, safety of visitors and respect for the rule of law.”