San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Court extends preventative-prison term for suspect in Austrians’ murder

A judge extended the pretrial detention period of a man accused of killing two Austrians in 2009. The suspect, with the last name of Rojas, has been in jail since September 2011 while awaiting trial. His preventative prison sentence was set to expire soon, but a criminal court in the southern Pacific port city of Golfito chose to extend the detention by three months.

Rojas is accused of planning and committing the murders of Horst Hauser, 67, and Herbert Langmeier, 65, who disappeared from Puerto Jiménez, a town on the Osa Peninsula, in December 2009. Earlier this month, polices arrested Rojas’ 29-year-old sister, a 24-year-old man named Murillo and a 33-year-old man named Muñoz. A police officer named Obando also was arrested. Authorities believed the four arrested were accomplices in the homicides. They also received three-month preventative-prison sentences, which end on Aug. 23.

DNA tests identified remains found on the beach in Puerto Jiménez  in 2011 as the bodies of Hauser and Langmeier. The positive results confirming Langmeier’s remains came last week after Costa Rican authorities sent genetic information to Austria. The Prosecutor’s Office said the remains matched with the DNA of Langmeier’s sister and mother.

The two Austrian citizens appeared to have been bludgeoned to death by a blunt object. One of the victims had a broken jaw, and the other showed brain trauma after multiple blows to the head, according to a Judicial Investigation Police report.

The brother Rojas was the prime suspect in the investigation since January 2010, when he was seen driving Hauser’s and Lagmeier’s car days after their disappearance. He also withdrew more than $5,000 from the two victims’ bank accounts. In August 2011, he turned himself in after hiding in the mountains for months.

Hauser and Langmeier were retired and arrived to Costa Rica from Knittelfeld, Austria. Officials said the motive for the suspects was a land grab, as the alleged murderers hoped to take over the Austrians’ property.

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