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Nicaraguan Army Detains 6 members of Costa Rica’s Environmental Court

Costa Rica News – On Tuesday, the Nicaraguan army detained six members of the Costa Rican Administrative Environmental Court, among which were a judge and an ex-Minister, as a result of having entered Nicaraguan territory without authorization.

Tribunal Ambiental costa rica 1The Minister of Security was duly informed that night.

It occurred on the border of Pueblo Nuevo de Upala, where employees were inspecting a rice plantation. At 8pm on Monday/Tuesday night, the Government was still processing the return of the nationals before the Nicaraguan authorities.

“They were inspecting the rice fields (in a general inspection of the northern zones), and involuntarily made the mistake of moving 650 meters into Nicaraguan territory; they didn’t notice the boundary marker”, stated the Minister of Security, Celso Gamboa.

Among the detainees are the judge José Luiz Salas, and civil servants Jorge Bonilla, Juan Sánchez, Gabriela Nájera and Allan Flores. This last figure carried out the position of Tourism Minister during Laura Chinchilla’s administration. The sixth member of the group is a driver who will remain unnamed.

“They are currently at the Pénjamo border (near to Los Chiles); we hope that the Nicaraguan Government will give them an administrative rebuff”, added the Minister. This decision would allow the nationals to return to Costa Rica.

They also retained two vehicles belonging to the Environmental Court, a body assigned to the Ministry of Environment and Energy (Minae).

“The ambassador (Javier Sancho) is doing everything in his power to ensure they return today (Tuesday).  The main issue is that they don’t have electricity, which complicated communications somewhat”, said Gamboa.

The Costa Rican chancery offered explanations to Daniel Ortega’s government, with a view to getting the civil servants liberated.

Luis Guillermo Solis’s government is also in the process of going over what happened to permit the detainees access to Nicaraguan territory in the first place.

“There is a bit of confusion because they could have just made a mistake. They were travelling in a car. We have since spoken with them; they’re being treated well – they simply made a mistake and by the time they realized, they were within Nicaragua”, the chief of Security told La Nación.

According to Gamboa, this type of border arrest has happened on other occasions. “The case goes to the officials of the Public Force and to the Judicial Investigation Organisation (OIJ), and the normal process is that they’re permitted to leave the next day.

“There’s no hostile attitude and they’re treated well; it’s a normal immigration process. What we want most is that they’re on their way quickly. We hope that they will be able to leave first thing in the morning (Wednesday). I am always in meetings with and in contact with both the Chancellor and ambassador Sanchez”, added Gamboa.

*Two weeks ago, two more Costa Ricans were detained near to Boca San Carlos.

Update *** The detainees have since been released peacefully ***

Translated by Leah Hendre from La Nacion

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