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French chef stabbed to death on Costa Rican beach

A French chef who was vacationing on a beach in northwestern Costa Rica was stabbed to death in an apparent fight over a cell phone, judicial police said Thursday.

The Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) said in a statement that a man surnamed Vásquez was arrested as a suspect in the murder of Frenchman Christophe Lietaer, 48, who was killed in the Guanacaste town of Playa del Coco.

According to the preliminary report from OIJ, Lietaer was heading to the beach on Wednesday in the company of two men, one of them Vásquez, when there was apparently a discussion about the Frenchman’s cell phone.

In the middle of the discussion, Vasquez is said to have pulled out a knife with which he mortally wounded the cook in the chest, arms and neck.

Although he fled with the other companion, the homicide suspect was arrested by the police shortly thereafter and was detained by orders of the Prosecutor’s Office.

Employees of the hotel where Lietaer was staying told local media that the Frenchman had checked into Playa del Coco three days earlier after arriving in Costa Rica as a cruise cook.

They described the European as a kind person and said that on Tuesday, he had prepared dinner for hotel employees and some Argentine tourists who were staying in the same place.

The crime occurred at a time when Costa Rica is objecting a United States-issued travel advisory warning visitors to “exercise increased caution” due to crime, a label the Central American government has “categorically rejected.”

Costa Rica receives about three million foreign tourists annually.

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