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Costa Rica Frees Accused Panamanian Military Officer

September 1, 2006

A Costa Rican judge last week freed Evidelio Quiel, a Panamanian military officer convicted in Panama of playing a part in the 1989 massacre of nine insurgents, the daily La Nación reported. Costa Rica had originally agreed to Panama’s request for his extradition, but with conditions.

Quiel was tried and convicted in 1996 by a Panamanian court without ever appearing before that court, which would be illegal in Costa Rica. For Costa Rica to comply with the extradition request, Panama was informed it had to try Quiel in his presence in order to comply with Costa Rican law, and was given 60 days to sign an agreement saying it would, the daily reported.

On Aug. 18, the Panamanian Government Attorney’s Office rejected Costa Rica’s request, and last week Quiel walked free after 11 months in prison. His defense lawyer told the daily that Panama can’t request the extradition again, as Panamanian law states there cannot be multiple requests for the same crimes.

In 1989, Panamanian military officer Moisés Giroldi headed an armed movement to overthrow general and dictator Manuel Noriega. An assault on the headquarters of the Panamanian Guard did not go as planned, and the insurgents gave themselves up. Loyal officers to Noriega – allegedly including Quiel – took the insurgents to an airplane hangar where they were tortured and then executed, La Nación reported.

 

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