Monday 17 May 2021

“Friend” Is The Main Suspect In Murder Of Italian Co-owner of Island in Panama

The body of Vincenzo Costanzo was found on the road to Universidad de la Paz in Cuidad Colon in January 2017. After ruling out theft as the motive, OIJ now focusing on "friend or partner" for a debt over drugs

A friend is the main suspect to have killed Vincenzo Costanzo, whose body tied with plastic tape and wrapped in black plastic, appeared on January 29, 2017, on the side of the road to the Universidad para la Paz, Cuidad Colon, in the canton of Mora, San Jose.

The victim, an Italian national with some 25 years of living in Costa Rica, was a majority shareholder of the private company Cebaco Inversiones SA, owner of 17 hectares on the Isla Cébaco, located in the Pacific waters, in Panama, and where only 650 people live.

The 52-year-old Italian lived in Costa Rica for some 25 years. His body was found on January 2017 on an isolated road in Cuidad Colon

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The murder of Costanzo occurred at a time when the sale of this property, valued at several million euros, was being negotiated with businessmen from Milan, Italy.

Initially, it was presumed that stealing this money could be the motive for the crime. However, after a year and four months of investigations, the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) has the hypothesis that the murder was over an alleged debt for drugs, which the victim had with a ‘friend or partner’ of Italian nationality.

Alvaro González, head of the Homicide section of the OIJ, said: “We presume that he can be a member of his own nationality because he mixed a lot with people from his country of origin (…) Vincenzo was with someone he knew and yes he had a disagreement. He was worried about some kind of debt from a non-licit business. ”

Graphic by La Nacion

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Likewise, the police chief ruled out that Costanzo’s crime is linked to the murders of the 51-year-old Italian Stefano Calandrelli, May 14 and whose body appeared in the Sucio River, on Route 32, and that of Salvatore Ponzo, 36, riddled with bullets on May 23, after he left the Italian embassy, in Los Yoses, Montes de Oca, San Jose.

“It’s a casual issue determined by nationality. The three deceased have had no relationship between them, which has been verified,” said Gonzalez.

Vincenzo Costanzo was single and has a son. He lived in Jacó (Puntarenas), but visited San José a lot for commercial reasons, as he was the owner of pizzerias.

In a message that Vincenzo sent on WhatsApp on January 24, 2017, to his sister, he said: “I’m going to the capital (San José) today. I’m supposed to leave (for Italy) tomorrow, it seems that this thing (the sale) will close (…) I’m a bit exhausted. ”

Costanzo would be meeting in San José with a known Italian “just to have coffee.” That person was the contact with those interested in buying land on the island. The name of that person was supplied by the Italian authorities to Costa Ricans.

Alvaro González added that Costanzo was seen alive the last time on January 24 near a residential complex in Alto de Las Palomas, in Escazú. They saw him between 7 p. m. at 7:30 p.m. m. Then he disappeared.

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He died of suffocation from a tape too tight around his neck, the OIJ reported. In spite of the decomposition of the corpse, relatives recognized him by his tattoos.

The head of Homicide of the OIJ admitted knowing the message of WhatsApp and the negotiation for the sale of the property.

“A person we have contacted in Panama and who has been willing to collaborate with us in the investigation has helped us rule out the sale of the property as a possible motive for the crime,” he added.

González, who preferred not to expand more details on the matter so as not to hinder the police investigation, said their focus is aimed rather at Costanzo who, allegedly, was part of an organization dedicated to sending drugs to Europe, by means of “mules” (people who carry narcotics attached to their body, in suitcases or intracorporeally).

The OIJ chief added that the Italian traveled frequently to the United States, Panama, and Italy, according to immigration records.

Gonzalez said that they have had contact with relatives and have exchanged information with the Italian authorities and the International Police (Interpol). “The only thing I can tell you is that in Italy, Vincenzo Costanzo had no criminal history”.

Source (in Spanish): La Nacion



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