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Cement case detainees await space at San Sebastián prison

November 6, 2017

The daily La Nación reported late Sunday that the seven men sentenced to three months’ preventive detention over the weekend in connection to the Chinese cement scandal will head to San Sebastián prison in San José.

Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) Director Walter Espinoza told the daily Sunday evening that one of the detainees, suspended Banco de Costa Rica manager Mario Barrenechea, 67, will likely be the first to be transferred to San Sebastián because he is a senior citizen and will therefore enter the prison system in a separate Social Adaption track.

The other men arrested, who included cement importer Juan Carlos Bolaños and five other Banco de Costa Rica management-level employees, will have to wait, since the historically overcrowded San Sebastián has a waiting list. A total of 40 prisoners are currently waiting for space at one of the country’s jails, according to La Nación.

All of the men were in OIJ holding cells at the time of the report. A court ordered three months’ preventive detention for all seven men following a marathon hearing that began at 1 am Saturday morning.

San Sebastián has been described by inmates as “hell on Earth,” and a judge ordered in  August 2016 that the prison be closed within 18 months. The judge described its living conditions as horrific.

Detainees at San Sebastián have complained to The Tico Times of inhumane conditions in overcrowded cells with minimal ventilation and so little sleeping space that some prisoners have to sleep on the floor next to urinals.

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