French Embassy asks for more protection for tourists

A spokesperson for the French Embassy in San José said Monday that Costa Rica needs to do more to protect tourists from France and from the rest of the world.

“The embassy is very concerned about this event,” said this spokesperson. “There must be more security for tourists.” The embassy statement referred to a French tourist who nearly had his arm hacked off when he tried to defend himself and his female companion from machete-wielding robbers near Puerto Viejo last week.

The French tourists were the second couple to be robbed in a matter of minutes along Playa Punta Uva Oct 22. The Frenchman received a severe blow from a machete to his arm, and the woman also sustained minor injuries. Both are currently in stable condition.

Police captured two suspects the day of the robbery, José Domingo Cruz, regional director of the Fuerza Publica, confirmed Monday.

The French couple robbed last week are Mathias Cuvex and Marie Combaz, according to police. This was the second serious crime involving French citizens in the last two years

In March 2011, another French couple, Gerard and Claude Dubois, disappeared while they were on vacation in Quepos. Since then, investigators have still only found the car the couple rented south of Quepos and the couple’s passports in a garbage bin in Jacó.

“These are two very serious cases,” said the embassy spokesperson. “We hope that the authorities put more force into guaranteeing security for tourists.”

A.M. Costa Rica reported the initial Puerto Viejo news story Monday.

Cruz would only give the name of one of the two suspects who have been detained. That man is José Luis González. The other suspect was released for cooperating with police, a spokesperson for the Judicial Investigating Organization confirmed.

According to police officials, two masked men with machetes first approached an Argentine man and a woman on the beach. Neither the man nor the women tried to fight the robbers, and they relinquished two bikes, a bag of possessions and other unspecified items.

Within minutes, the two men found the French couple nearby. The judicial spokesperson said that Cuvex tried to fight the robbers. One robber responded by slashing at Cuvex’s arm, cutting him so deeply that the arm was almost completely severed from the rest of his body, said the policeman.

That man also inflicted minor injuries on Ms. Combaz before fleeing with unspecified items.

Fellow beachgoers responded to the French couple’s cries for help. The couple were first taken to a hospital in Limón and later to Clinica Biblica in San José, said police.

Cruz said that the two suspects were arrested later that day. Investigators raided the home of González and found one of the bikes that had been stolen from the Argentine couple, he said.

The judicial spokesperson said that a judge ordered González held for three months of preventative detention because investigators believe he is the one who inflicted the wounds on Cuvex and Ms. Combaz. He had also just been released from prison Aug. 23 for having a gun without a license, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also said that the other unnamed suspect was released because he cooperated with police by helping to find and return the items that were stolen from the two couples. He must report to local police every 15 days to make sure he has not left town, the spokesperson added.

The French Embassy spokesperson said that the couple underwent surgeries, but are now in good health and recuperating.

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