UPDATE, Wednesday, July 16, 2014:
Police released all four suspects later the same day due to a lack of evidence. Read the updated story here.
Original story continues here:
Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) on Tuesday arrested four men suspected of raping a 19-year-old U.S. woman in the tourist destination of La Fortuna, near Arenal Volcano in the Northern Zone. Police are withholding the victim’s name.
An OIJ spokeswoman confirmed to The Tico Times that security cameras and witnesses identified the four men at a bar, El Establo, the last place the woman was seen before the rape allegedly occurred early Sunday morning. According to police, the four suspects – aged 27 to 35 – work in construction in La Fortuna. The OIJ spokeswoman added that the victim has not yet positively identified the suspects.
On Monday, police reported that the victim was traveling with a group of seven students and two supervisors from the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The group arrived in Costa Rica during the weekend of July 12 and planned to travel to La Fortuna, San José and Jacó. According to current information, the woman went to the bar with her companions on Saturday night but returned to the bar later, ostensibly alone, to look for a missing item. Previous reports noted that there were seven suspects.
The victim has filed a criminal complaint with the OIJ’s San Carlos office. The U.S. Embassy in San José would not comment specifically on the incident, but in cases of sexual assault, the embassy often accompanies and supports victims while they file police reports, obtain forensic testing and seek medical care. Embassy staff also follow up with local authorities to provide updates on a regular basis to victims after they leave the country, according to embassy spokeswoman Evelyn Ardón.
The Prosecutor’s Office acknowledged the arrests but said the office is waiting for a final report from the OIJ before requesting the suspects be held in preventive detention pending further investigation.
At this writing, the OIJ spokeswoman said the victim remains in Costa Rica.