Revelations by a Swedish journalist that top Sandinista officials ordered the fatal May 31, 1984, bombing of a Nicaraguan rebel press conference has done nothing to advance the investigation, said Costa Rica’s chief prosecutor.
“Just because a person says something doesn’t mean that we can think it’s true,” said Francisco Dall’Anese. “We have to look for more elements of judgment.”
Peter Torbiornsson told reporters in Managua recently that a Cuban intelligence officer named Renán Montero asked him to introduce a Danish photographer named Per Anker Hansen to contacts in Costa Rica.
The Swede also blamed Nicaragua’s former Interior Minister Tomás Borge and former chief of counterintelligence Lenín Cerna.
Hansen turned out to be an Argentine leftist named Roberto Vital Gaguine who allegedly detonated a remote-control bomb at a May 31, 1984, press conference in La Penca, Nicaragua, near the Costa Rican border in an attempt to kill Nicaraguan rebel Edén Pastora.
Pastora was injured and survived. But the bomb killed Tico Times reporter Linda Frazier, Channel 6 cameraman Jorge Quirós and the station’s assistant, Evelio Sequeira.
An investigation into the bombing pointed to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, which became conventional wisdom in Costa Rica until Miami Herald reporter Juan Tamayo happened to meet an Argentine leftist in Paris who said he knew the bomber to be a one-time member of a leftist Argentine guerrilla group.
Around the same time, Doug Vaughn, an investigator with the public interest group law firm the Christic Institute found a thumbprint of Hansen on a Panamanian driver’s license application.
Tamayo and Vaughn took the thumbprint to Argentine authorities who were able to positively identify it as that of Gaguine.
Family members subsequently told Tamayo that Gaguine had died in the 1989 attack on the La Tablada military garrison.
But Dall’Anese, who saw Gaguine’s police file on a trip to Buenos Aires, said no positive identification of any remains of Gaguine has ever been made.
“As far as Argentine authorities are concerned, he’s still alive,” said Dall’Anese.