San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Jairo Mora

U.S. congressman calls for Jairo Mora’s killers to be brought to justice

Slow progress in the case of the killing of Costa Rican conservationist Jairo Mora Sandoval has drawn the attention of a United States congressman.

U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, a Democrat who sits on the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Budget Committee, wrote a letter dated July 10 to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lamenting insecurity along Costa Rica’s beaches and the lack of progress in Mora’s case.

“I am writing to express my concern about the safety of conservation workers in Costa Rica, in light of recent crimes against Americans and others working on its beaches. I urge you to encourage the Costa Rican government to seek out the perpetrators of these crimes and to increase safety measures for conservationists working to protect sea turtles,” wrote the California congressman.

Huffman added Costa Rica’s beaches are a “critical” breeding ground for the leatherback sea turtles, which are under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

Jairo Mora, 26, was found dead in the early morning of May 31. The Judicial Investigation Police said that Mora had been beaten, shot in the head and had his hands tied behind his back.

Mora was abducted along with four women, three from the United States and another from Spain. The women were held separately from Mora and eventually escaped.

Costa Rican law enforcement officials have released little information about their investigation into the killing of the sea turtle conservationist, but Chief Prosecutor Jorge Chavarría said last Wednesday that they had identified two suspects and hinted that the case could significantly advance this week. However, officials now have pushed back their important “announcement” to next week.

U.S. Embassy Information Officer Eric Turner said that he was unaware of any official statement from Washington or Secretary Kerry regarding the turtle conservationist’s death.

In an email statement, the U.S. Embassy said that it “joins with those here in Costa Rica and around the world who are eager to see the case resolved and the perpetrators brought to justice for the senseless murder of Jairo Mora and the related abduction of three US citizens who were with him that night.”

On June 5, soon after the killing, the U.S. Embassy published a blog post on its website emphasizing the need to improve security and economic opportunities along the country’s coastal regions as a deterrent to poaching and drug trafficking.

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