San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

4 Arrested for Alleged Gang Rape

FOUR Costa Ricans ages 18-25 are inpreventive detention after a tourist fromthe United States told police she was thevictim of a gang rape during the annualholiday festival held in Zapote, east of SanJosé, in late December.The four suspects, alleged members ofa band police say is dedicated to rapingwomen and stealing their belongings, werearrested after the 23-year-old tourist,whose name has been withheld, reportedthe alleged assault on Jan. 11, according toSandra Castro, a spokeswoman from theJudicial Branch.The penal court of Goicoechea, in SanJosé, ordered the suspects, who are allfrom Tirraces de Curridabat, south of thecapital, to two months in preventiveprison while the Sex Crimes Unit of theProsecutor’s Office conducts an investigation.POLICE were able to identify andarrest the suspects because a person whoaccompanied the U.S. tourist at theZapote fairgrounds captured three of theirfaces in photographs, and the U.S. womanlater identified them in a line-up, accordingto the daily Al Día. Police would notconfirm that information to The TicoTimes, however.According to Castro, the tourist gave arecorded testimony in a procedure thatapplies to foreign victims of crimes in thecountry, so that her presence is notrequired during the investigation or in aneventual trial.The group implicated in this case issuspected of attacking young women inpublic festivities, according to FranciscoRuiz, spokesman for the JudicialInvestigation Police (OIJ). Police theorizethat after establishing friendly conversationwith their victims, band memberswould force them into a vehicle and drivethem to solitary areas, where the groupwould rape them, Ruiz said.Band members would proceed to stealthe victims’ belongings and force them towithdraw all their money from a cashmachine. Later, they would threaten to killthe victims or their families if they reportedthe abuse to authorities, according toRuiz.THE police spokesman said authoritieshave knowledge of other victims ofsimilar crimes that could be connected tothis band, but who have not reported therapes out of fear of reprisal.Last month, a 19-year-old womansaid she was raped in the western suburbof Escazú by three men between the agesof 24 and 26, one of whom is allegedlyassociated with the band, according toRuiz.Those suspects were set free inDecember, and must report to authoritiesevery 15 days.According to Castro, if the menaccused of the Escazú rape are not in preventivedetention, it is because the evidenceagainst them is insufficient.Police ask that any person who hasbeen a victim of rape or sexual abusereport the crime by calling 295-3315, 295-3316 or 295-3317.

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