Suspects released from jail due to lack of hearing record

The judiciary is introducing oral hearings into the court system, and the plan backfired this week.

The Poder Judicial said that 12 policemen and a civilian were freed when a disk that was presumed to contain the proceedings of an earlier court hearing was found to be blank when the case got to an appeals panel Tuesday.

Because of the oral nature of the previous hearing, the only documentation would have been the recording.

Most courtrooms have cameras and sound equipment. Judicial assistants usually turn on the equipment when a hearing starts. In this case, the defense lawyers argued that they could not adequately argue against a continuation of pre-trial detention because they did not know what had transpired July 28. At that time the Juzgado Penal de Hacienda del II Circuito Judicial ordered the 13 individuals held for four more months.

Even though the men have been freed, they still are suspects. When they were arrested in Heredia, officials said they were involved in drug dealing and stealing drugs from criminals for resale. Prosecutors can seek to have them rearrested or just continue with the criminal case.

The Poder Judicial noted that specific rules for recording were published in June.

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