Four captured on high seas let go by prosecutors here

Judicial authorities have freed four Costa Ricans who the U.S. coast guard captured in international waters as drug smuggling suspects.

The nation’s chief prosecutor said in an email relayed by the Poder Judicial that he does not have the legal authority to relinquish jurisdiction. After a short court appearance Wednesday the four were freed because prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence. The men threw packages into the sea when the U.S. ship neared.

They were believed to be smuggling marijuana into Costa Rica. Under a joint anti-drug agreement, Costa Rica has jurisdiction over those captured on the high seas in a boat flying the national flag.

When the men appeared to be on the verge of going free, the idea was advanced that Costa Rica surrender them to the United States for prosecution. That is why the fiscal general, Jorge Chavarría, insisted that the law did not permit this.

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