Thursday 30 June 2022

Traffic Police and OIJ Advocate Removal Of Bodies Without Presence of a Judge

When someone dies in a car accident in Costa Rica, the body cannot be removed without the presence of a judge at the scene, resulting in the accident scene tied up for hours

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The Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ), the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police) and a former criminal judge advocate that the removal of bodies in traffic accidents be carried out without the presence of a judge.

The driver crashed into the concrete barrier on the autopista General Cañas losing his life and sending the passenger to hosptial. The crash occurred at 1 am on March 15, but it wasn’t until after 6 am when a judge and prosecutor appeared at the scene to order the removal of the body and allowing the re-opening of the Alajuela bound landes of the freeway. Photo: José Cordero, La Nacion

The discussion gained strength after less than a month two traffic accidents with fatalities, generated traffic chaos in two of the main roads – the Circunvalacion and the autopista General Cañas last Thursday that resulted in the shut down of almost 7 hours – of the greater metropolitan area of San Jose (GAM).

Alajuela bound traffic (right) due to the accident well after 7 am. The other side traffic (left) is normal morning traffic on the General Cañas. Foto: José Cordero, La Nacion

Carlos Núñez, former criminal judge and who currently works in Flagrancia courts, explained that the presence of a judge is required by the Criminal Procedure Code; However, he recognizes that this issue has already been discussed in the judicial circuit and it is considered that the presence of this authority is unnecessary.

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According to the provisions of that Code, “the judge arrives at the scene, takes note of the conditions of the corpse and some other details that he considers necessary, it is not possible to delegate everything to the OIJ, although it is they who work the accident scene,” said Núñez, in explaining the standard.

It was the February crash on the Circunvalación, when a young doctor lost the control of his vehicle crahing on to a stationary tractor trailer, that Walter Espinoza, director of the OIJ, said publicly that the presence of a judge and prosecutor at the senece had “low value”.

In that accident, the entire west side of San Jose and the GAM was paralyzed for hours. The Circunvalación and the General Cañas are two of the three marjor arteries in the GAM, choke one, the others collapse entirely.

“If the OIJ had the possibility of carrying out the work independently (without the judge), it would obviously be quicker to pay attention to the case and also to satisfy the public interest,” said the director of the OIJ.

For his part, Mario Calderon, head of the Policia de Transito, said that the ideal for the February 23 and March 15 crashes is to seek a different procedure for the removal of the bodies, taking into account the impact the procedure has on the transit situation.

“This is an issue that more than affecting the traffic police, it affects the drivers,” added Calderón.

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Source (in Spanish): La Nacion

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