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COSTA RICA'S LEADING ENGLISH LANGUAGE NEWSPAPER

Child Abuse Trial Of Former Costa Rica Priest Will Continue

The trial of Mauricio Viquez, a former Costa Rica priest will continue after all. There was a concern that the long legal process of charging and then extraditing Viquez from Mexico could end up being dismissed due to a technicality.

Viquez is accused of abusing and raping four children while a parish priest. The alleged events occurred between 1996-2003. 

The prosecution had invoked a provision of a new Costa Rica law allowing the courts to extend the statute of limitation for the sexual abuse of children to 25 years.

In 2019 Viquez was called to a meeting of his superiors at the Catholic Church where he was told of the pending charges. Shortly thereafter Viquez fled the Costa Rica for Mexico.

Viquez was later charged by Costa Rican authorities and the Church defrocked him.

By then though, Viquez was on the run.

Frustrated by his attempt to avoid justice two of his accusers flew, at their own expense to Mexico in order to assist in his capture. Viquez was later arrested after being discovered via social media.

The ex-priest fought extradition unsuccessfully and then returned to Costa Rica to face trial. He has been in preventative detention since his deportation.

Then last week, when his trial was about to begin, one of the three judges seated to hear his case was unable to attend due to Covid-19 exposure.

Viquez defense lawyers tried assert that under the law the cases against Viquez should be dismissed due to a legal provision that gives the government a deadline in bringing their case at this stage. The Costa Rica Health Ministry Covid-19 quarantine requirements would have meant that the seated judge could not return until after the deadline.

The Costa Rica Criminal Court has rejected this argument and the case will start from scratch in March.

This chapter in this long saga seems to have come to an end for now but will certainly be a basis of appeal if Viquez is convicted.

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