An air photo taken Oct. 5 became key evidence Wednesday when lawyers for Costa Rica had a second day to outline their case against the canals Nicaragua has constructed on Costa Rican territory.
The air photo clearly shows a canal being lengthened near the Caribbean and a camp that appears occupied by Nicaraguan military.
Tuesday Nicaragua said that President Daniel Ortega knew nothing about the project and that the person responsible for the canal was Edén Pastora, the former Contra leader who is now an ally and in charge of dredging the Río San Juan.
James Crawford, Costa Rica’s lawyer and a professor, presented much of the case. He said that the Nicaragua explanations were not credible. The site was the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.
Costa Rica is seeking an expanded ruling that would let workers enter the area and block the canals. The Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto noted that Nicaragua has a second chance to make a presentation today and that the court probably will not issue a ruling for several weeks.
The court had ordered both countries to stay off the disputed territory while the case was being argued.
Costa Rica had the right to conduct some environmental salvage operations, but Nicaragua has had citizens and workers on the land for months.
Costa Rica had not been keeping a close eye on the area because officials were caught by surprise when they learned about the nearly completed canals in early September.
Crawford told the court that the excavations for the canal were clearly the results of a careful plan and Pastora did not simply lose his way and dredge and dig in disputed territory by accident. and decided to dig a hole for himself.
Costa Rica also noted that Nicaragua soldiers were on the site 15 days after Ortega was supposed to have ordered a halt to work there, as Nicaragua claimed.
Lawyers also said that the air photo shows clearly that the work is being done on the Isla Portillos, which is Costa Rican property.
The Nicaraguans are trying to open a deep access to the Río San Juan to bypass a winding river course that is heavily silted. That way shipping can have access. The area is being readied for tourism. The canals are expected to serve as guides for strong surges of the river water.