San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

21 Wounded in Coastal Land Dispute

A land dispute in Herradura, on the central Pacific coast, resulted in a shooting Wednesday night that left 21 people wounded.

The Red Cross said 15 people suffered minor injuries caused by ricochet, and six received direct gunshot wounds.

All 21 wounded were taken to a clinic in Jacó, south of Herradura – though only one patient’s condition was critical yesterday afternoon.

The legal dispute involves a group of Costa Rican families and U.S. citizen Dean Hepner and began 2004, according to Judicial Branch spokesman Federico Vanegas. A Puntarenas judge ruled June 21 that the finca belongs to Hepner, who placed it under the names of two Costa Rican corporations, or sociedades anónimas.

A group of people had apparently invaded the property after Hepner bought it and fraudulently sold pieces of it to people who bought it “in good faith,” Vanegas said.

Following the June 21 ruling, National Police evicted those living on the property, and some officers stayed until Sunday to prevent conflicts, National Police Assistant Director Rigoberto Rodríguez told The Tico Times. Private security forces began guarding the land after the police left.

At about 8 p.m.Wednesday night, a group of residents tried to reclaim the property. It is unclear who fired the shots. However, Vanegas said the local prosecutor confiscated two firearms from the guards.

National Police officers were sent back to the area to prevent further conflict.


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