San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Leader of La Reforma prison break found dead

Two days before he was found dead, the leader of the failed jailbreak from La Reforma prison, complained of death threats and physical attacks toward him, according to a document submitted to the Sala IV, and obtained by the daily La Nación.
Johel Araya asked the judges of the Sala IV “to stop what is happening. They are killing me slowly.”

Araya, the suspected ringleader of the attempted prison break from the La Reforma prison on May 11, was found dead in his cell Saturday morning, according to a report by La Nación. Araya, 45, was allegedly found sitting on his bed with no physical markings or indications of violence. But the complaint to Sala IV included allegations that Araya had been beaten.

The escape attempt from La Reforma on May 11 led to the death of a prison guard and two prisoners, including Erlyn Hurtado. Hurtado, 31, led a bank robbery attempt in the northwest mountain town of Monteverde in 2005 that resulted in nine dead and 17 wounded.

The director of the Judicial Investigation Police said the document will be used to determine what happened to Araya and to better understand the jailbreak.

Araya wrote seven complaints to Sala IV before his death. He alleged that prison guards beat him and four others to the point of unconciousness after delivering punches and kicks to the head, rips, arms and legs of the prisoners. The guards told him they’d return the next day for another beating, with the intent to end Araya’s life, the document said. Araya was told the guards wanted him to suffer.

Araya also claimed that guards stripped him of all his perosnal belongings and broke his television.
In the complaint, Araya referred to the jailbreak as a “mistake,” and added “but it is well known that there are proper authorities which punish people for their mistakes.”

Araya was also part of a prison escape from La Reforma in 2006. During that attempt, Araya was shot six times.

On Saturday night prior to going to his cell, it was also reported that Araya had been in good spirits, talkative and vocal with the other prisoners.   

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