San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Video of turtle torture highlights common practice in Costa Rica

A video of young men merrily dragging a live sea turtle behind a car in Costa Rica went viral after well-known environmental lawyer Álvaro Sagot posted it to his Facebook page earlier this week.

The widespread outrage provoked by the shared video spurred a police investigation. Agents from the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) determined that the video was several years old, but were still able to track down two suspects using the license plate number of the car in the video.

OIJ officials said in a statement that one of the suspects has received a citation and will be required to appear in court, while the second suspect is already in prison on drug trafficking charges.

Despite the outcry, dragging turtles behind cars is a common method of killing or torturing turtles in certain parts of Costa Rica. Green turtles, the species of turtle in the video, are sometimes killed for meat here.

The video’s surge on social media coincided with the close of the trial for the murder of sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora. Four sea turtle poachers were convicted of the 2013 murder, which, like the video, took place on Moín Beach.

Mora suffocated after being tied up and dragged through the sand, much the same way as turtles, like the one in the video, are sometimes dragged by poachers. Though judges and prosecutors disagree over whether Mora was dragged by a vehicle or by two people on foot, parallels between his murder and this manner of killing turtles were made several times during the trial.

“They killed him just as they would a turtle,” lead prosecutor Miguel Ramírez said during his closing arguments. “How fitting that they killed a man who dedicated his life to turtles in just the same way.”

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Hachi Ko

ZERO respect for Life!

It’s non-sentient creature with far less intelligence than a human being. It has never had an evil thought or a thought of hatred in its entire life. Such thoughts are beyond its mental capability. It just wants to eat and stay alive… That’s ALL…

And you drag it behind a car, smiling and laughing? I’m ashamed to be Human.

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Hachi Ko

What in Bloody Hell compels a person to DO such a thing?! I wouldn’t do that to my very worst enemy.

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Ken Morris

IMO, this is precisely the question that needs to be asked–and not rhetorically. Since it’s highly unlikely that hatred of turtles motivates this, we have to assume that turtles are symbolizing another hatred. My guess is that there’s real class/cultural rage out there, and we may be misdirected if we assume this thing is about the turtles.

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What brilliance! Cruel idiots take a video of themselves doing a foul deed to boast of it. But it allows them to be positively identified and charged. Hoist with his own petard! Justica!

These “boys”, they cannot be called men, will eventually mate with equally stupid women and perpetuate their idiocy. Ahh, the circle of life.

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