San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

No New Trial In Journalist’s Murder

The 2003 murder of Tica journalist Ivannia Mora for now will go unpunished.

On Tuesday, Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala III) judges threw out a request by prosecutors to retry the case with evidence ruled inadmissible during the original trial, which ended in 2006. The 3-2 decision ratified the 2006 acquittal of six men – Eugenio Millot, Edward Serna, Freddy Cortés, Nelson López, John Nievas and Edgardo Martínez.

Millot, of Uruguay, is Mora’s former boss at the Estrategía y Negocios magazines.

Prosecutors alleged he paid to have her killed after she left for Summa magazine, a rival publication, taking some staff with her (TT, Nov. 24, 2006). Mora was shot to death in traffic by men on motorcycles in Curridabat in San José on Dec. 23, 2003.

The inadmissible evidence consisted of testimony taken by prosecutors and judges in Costa Rica and Colombia, allegedly without the presence of defense lawyers and by unauthorized officials.

Millot and the other suspects, arrested in 2004, spent two years in preventive prison before their case ended in acquittal.

Their lawyers filed complaints against the Prosecutor’s Office with the Judicial Investigation Police. They also requested a settlement from the court for the time spent in prison, but judges threw out this request, according to a court press release.

The ruling is a setback for journalists in Costa Rica, said Journalists Association President Heriberto Valverde.

“Although we all as citizens have to respect the decisions of the nation’s courts, the ruling is a strong blow against the practice of journalism here,” he said. “It’s very sad because now the Prosecutor’s Office will have to start from scratch to investigate her murder. Journalists should go forward and keep fighting in memory of Mora.”

Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Marisel Rodríguez said her office would have no comment until prosecutors had a chance to study the court’s ruling.

–Nick Wilkinson


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