Kanev Extradition: ‘Proof Justice is Served’
PRESIDENT Abel Pacheco this weekcalled the successful extradition of suspectedpedophile Arthur Kanev from theUnited States “proof justice is served inCosta Rica.”Pacheco made the comment duringTuesday’s Cabinet meeting, four days afterKanev landed at Juan SantamaríaInternational Airport and became the firstU.S. citizen in history extradited to CostaRica to face trial here (TT, May 21).Kanev, who was sent to San Sebastiánjail on a preventive detention order, willface a host of charges related to pedophilicactivities, including providing drugs tominors, corruption of minors and havingsexual relations with willing children ages12 to 15, according to Prosecutor MiguelAbarca of the Quepos Prosecutor’s Office(TT, April 30).KANEV was arrested in the Pacificport town of Quepos in 1999 for allegedlypossessing 280 homemade photographsof nude, provocatively posedgirls between the ages of 11 and 16 (TT,Jan. 8, 1999).Alejandro Cedeño, Consul General ofthe Costa Rican Embassy in Washington,D.C., the office that processed Kanev’sextradition, said Kanev was released onbail after his arrest and he then fled thecountry.The former dentist eluded authoritiesfor more than two years, but was capturedin Florida in July 2003 after his imageappeared on the U.S. television show“America’s Most Wanted.”He was met at the airport last Thursdayby Child Welfare Minister Rosalía Gil,Vice-Minister of Public Security AnaHelena Chacón and agents of the JudicialInvestigative Police (OIJ).GIL said other suspects would beextradited to be judged for similar crimes,and that Kanev’s case would serve as themodel for those cases.“The government is saying ‘no’ to sexualexploitation,” Gil said. “This cannotcontinue to be.”Bruce Harris of the San José-basedchild-advocacy organization Casa Alianzasaid he did not think it a coincidence thatKanev was arriving just as the follow-upmeeting to the Second World Congressagainst the Sexual Exploitation of Childrenand Adolescents, held last week in San José,wrapped up (see separate article).That, and the presence of high-rankinggovernment officials at Kanev’s arrival,Harris said, is an attempt to send a messagethat Costa Rica is taking action against thosesuspected of exploiting children.“I hope they’re giving the same levelof attention at this highest level of governmentto the victims as they are to Kanev,”Harris said. “I say that sarcasticallybecause I know they’re not.”HARRIS was also present for Kanev’sarrival.“Bienvenido!” he shouted with cuppedhands as the suspect stepped off the aircraft.“Is it still O.K. to have sex with childrenin Costa Rica?”Kanev, escorted by police, kept hishead down and did not comment.The suspect’s case has drawn widespreadattention, though not for the firsttime.In December 2000, Kanev was featuredon the U.S. TV-news magazine show“20/20” when the program ran an exposéabout the sexual exploitation of minors inCosta Rica. He told an ABC reporter thathe had “no qualms” about what he didhere. The report made him internationallyinfamous (TT, Dec. 15, 2000).KANEV was remitted to the control ofthe Second Circuit Court of Guadalupe,according to Sandra Castro, a spokeswomanfor the Judicial Branch.She said his trial would begin the lastweek of August at the Quepos Court.Judicial proceedings began againstKanev’s companion Joe Curtis Baker atthe same time authorities opened theircase against Kanev. A Costa Rican courtin 2002 found Baker guilty of threecounts of providing marijuana to minors.He was sentenced to 24 years in prison(TT, April 30).
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