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Costa Rica Protest Against Police Violence Leads to Clashes

A protest against recent alleged instances of police violence, concluded on Saturday with confrontations between demonstrators and the police.

The protest commenced at 10:30 a.m. from San José’s central park and proceeded to the Legislative Assembly’s vicinity. Here, they vocalized their concerns, referencing incidents like the one reported by a young woman from Alajuela two weeks prior.

While at the Legislative Assembly, several protesters mounted the steps to display a banner condemning the purported aggressions by the Police Force members. However, the situation escalated when police officers allegedly attempted to force the removal of the banner, leading to confrontations.

During the ensuing clash, the Public Force detained three individuals for resisting arrest and another for alleged vandalism. A fifth person was medically treated after being struck with a baton.

However, the police claimed they apprehended an individual in possession of a spray can and a long kitchen knife, which further exacerbated tensions. Moreover, seven officers reportedly sustained injuries from punches and kicks.

The case

A 23-year-old woman used social media to assert that she was attacked by multiple police officers outside an Alajuela bar.

In an hour-long Instagram video, she described a harrowing ordeal where she was allegedly assaulted, choked, and inappropriately touched by around 15 members of the Costa Rican Police Force.

The woman claimed she was then secluded in a dimly lit area, further assaulted, and later detained for approximately five hours. She even shared photographs showcasing her injuries on the platform.

Investigation underway

Following these allegations, the Ministry of Public Security (MSP) directed Alajuela’s Public Force to commence an internal inquiry into the purported police misconduct.

Eric Lacayo, the vice minister of Security, conveyed his regret over the situation in a video message to the press.

He assured that, upon becoming aware of the complaint, the MSP instructed Alajuela’s Public Force regional directorate to take appropriate action and mandated the ministry’s Legal Disciplinary Department to initiate a comprehensive investigation.

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