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Doctors, pizzeria owner arrested for alleged organ trafficking released in Costa Rica

October 17, 2013

Three doctors and a Greek pizzeria owner have been released after their arrest last Thursday on charges of organ trafficking, according to Costa Rica’s Supreme Court of Justice and the Prosecutor’s office.

The court ordered the suspects to surrender their passports, not leave the country, and not harass and approach any witnesses or others involved in the case. The suspects must check in with the Prosecutor’s Office every 15 days, detailed a court representative. Any divergence from these precautionary measures could result in harsher actions by the court.

The Prosecutor’s Office requested six months preventative detention for the four while the investigation continues into a kidney trafficking operation allegedly masterminded by Dr. Francisco José Mora, currently detained on the same charge. Mora is currently being held until Dec. 19, when his six-month preventive detention is up. 

In Costa Rica, judges can sentence suspects to preventive prison bids while prosecutors build a case and gather evidence to go to trial.

The court reportedly released the suspects late Friday night. The Prosecutor’s Office has already appealed the court’s decision. 

“We are waiting for the court to give us another hearing where we can explain why they must be held in preventative prison, particularly because of the flight risk and the possibility that they could obstruct the investigation,” said Tatiana Vargas, press representative for the Prosecutor’s Office.

Rita Henry, a press spokeswoman for the public Calderón Guardia Hospital in San José, where the two urologists and vascular specialist worked, said they could not comment on the employment status of the three doctors, pending instructions from the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ).

The Akropolis pizzeria, owned by Dimosthenis Katsigiannis Karkasi, 55, one of the suspects, reopened on Friday, Oct. 11, according to an employee there. The restaurant was open and serving customers Thursday when this article went to press.

Last Thursday, OIJ arrested Katsigiannis Karkasi and three doctors in connection with an investigation into an organ trafficking ring operating out of the Calderón Guardia Hospital and the private Clínica Bíblica Hospital.

Authorities estimated that there were some 20 “donors” who illegally sold their kidneys for as little as $6,000, while the alleged traffickers sold the organs for as much as $100,000.

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