Next week marks the six-month anniversary of arrest and indefinite detention without trial of United States citizen, David Strecker. As a political prisoner of the notoriously corrupt Costa Rica Poder Judicial there is no evidence and no trial.
In all likelihood a kangaroo court will meet again next week, and nothing will change. The prosecution will present no evidence and tell some variation on the theme of why the dog ate their judicial homework. A disinterested judge will rubber stamp another period of indefinite imprisonment, and Dave will be cashiered back into prison.
Costa Rica may be on the happiest places on earth. However, it’s clearly the criminals who are the happiest. According to Juan Diego Castro, of the legal firm Juris more than 92 percent of criminal complaints in Costa Rica go unresolved. Even when a suspect is captured and brought to trial they are typically allowed to go free pending a trial that takes several years to materialize. If a conviction occurs, and the appeals are exhausted, it takes years for the police to catch up with the now convicted criminals.
The situation is so pathetic that when the Poder Judicial releases their top 10 most wanted, everyone on the list has already been convicted of a crime that occurred years ago. The list doesn’t name any actual suspects in ongoing investigations because instead of investigative work the police are busy trying to round up the convicted criminals. Included on the list are rapists, armed robbers, narcotics traffickers, and murderers.
Foreigners, particularly United States citizens have no rights in Costa Rica. When accused of a crime they are tossed in prison, indefinitely and without trial while the local murders remain free or get out of prison on weekend passes. There is no such thing as judicial neutrality in Costa Rica and the worst thing a foreigner could ever do is embarrass the government or expose social problems in Costa Rica.
The more embarrassing secrets a society has to hide, especially a petty one like Costa Rica the more they hate the messenger. Instead of creating social policy to actually deal with problems like poverty, teenage pregnancy, organized crime, unemployment, sexual abuse or narcotics trafficking it’s easier to just pass a law that prohibits talking about the actual situation. This is what passes for social justice in a small leaderless nation that prefers to pass gag laws against the press and prosecute political crimes instead of countering criminal impunity.
Next week Dave faces an uncertain future. Preliminary “evidence” that the prosecution has provided in the discovery process shows a case that is deeply flawed and lacking of any substance. It only proves the one thing, which Dave has admitted openly on Facebook and in his personal life for over a decade. For a man to have consensual intimate relationships with women, age 18 and over in Costa Rica is no crime.
Men from around the world have been visiting Costa Rica and enjoying the country’s number one natural resource for decades. Now one of these men, a 65-year-old carpenter’s assistant from Key West is in prison without trial.
Instead of looking for human traffickers or dealing with organized crime, it’s easier to make a political case in court against a poor and lonely man who only has good things to say about Costa Rica. While the rest of us upporting Dave may call out the corrupt judges and cowardly prosecutors, Dave still doesn’t have anything bad to say about Costa Rica. He just wants to go home to his rented room in Key West, and ride his bicycle to work restoring buildings and occasionally putting on bird shows for the tourists.
It’s unclear if Dave will ever get his day in court. However, he greatly appreciates your contributions as they are the only lifeline keeping him afloat in the corrupt judicial system. Your contributions pay for a criminal defense attorney, constitutional law attorney and competent courtroom interpreters. Keeping the pressure on the prosecution to make their case is the key to getting Dave released.