QCOSTARICA – The thought has crossed many a foreigner living in Costa Rica: if something (really) bad happens I am our of here, head for the border. Many Costa Ricans think the same.
Such is the case with the young man, allegedly involved in street racing (picones in Spanish) in Pavas two weeks ago, in an accident that resulted in the amputation of both legs of a young woman, Daryl Cruz.
According to a video seized by the Organizmo de Investigacion Judicial (OIJ) and witness interviews, Cruz was struck by the out of control vehicle, pinning her legs under the metal.
In this case, given that Cruz never reported the incident (filed a complaint), the OIJ acted out its own initiative to bring to justice the driver (allegedly) behind the wheel.
The Fiscalia (Prosecution) and immigration service confirms that the suspect, identified by his last names Frech Abdallah, left the country by way of the Peñas Blancas land border into Nicaragua, hours after the incident.
Banned from leaving Costa Rica
Typically when a person is wanted by authorities, an “impedimento de salida” (a ban on leaving the country) is sought and an alert at border crossings, including airports, stops the person from leaving the country.
However, the process can take some time before it can reach the immigration database.
Leaving Costa Rica means checking out at border posts. At land borders, for example, an individual fills out a form, hands it to the immigration officer who then checks the database and stamps the passport. If there is a problem, the individual is not allowed to leave the country and typically results in police custody.
The process was the same at airports some years back. Today, at the airports, the process is behind the scenes. The airlines are required to submit to the immigration service a list of all checked in passengers, and the names are run through the database. In the case of the San Jose airport, there is an immigration office solely for this purpose on the second level of the terminal building.
If an individual is barred from leaving the country, ie. wanted by police or for failure to pay child support, he or she is not allowed to board their flight and will most likely be in police custody.
This check also is the reason for the 60 minute prior to departure for all check-ins at the San Jose (SJO) airport).
But, leaving the country does not guaranteed justice will not be served. Costa Rican authorities can issue an international warrant of arrest, that can lead to extradition back to the country.
Earlier his year, a Nicaraguan national, the only suspect in the brutal murder – massacre – of a couple and their three children in Guanacaste, fled Costa Rica for his native land, where he was captured. In the case of Nicaragua, a country that does not permit the extradition of its own, the man is being tried there for his crimes committed in Costa Rica.