Costa Rica back in court in The Hague again today

The country is back in the International Court of Justice today when Nicaragua gets a chance to claim damages from the construction by Costa Rica of a road along the Río San Juan.

This is the troubled road that President Laura Chinchilla ordered to be built after Nicaragua invaded a section on the country in the far northeast.

Nicaragua claims environmental damage from the road, including silting of the river.

The international court in The Hague, Netherlands, has joined the claim with Costa Rica’s case against Nicaragua for the invasion. But there is a separate hearing starting today.

This time Nicaragua is on the offensive with initial comments at 1 p.m. local time. Costa Rica gets a chance to reply Wednesday. Then there is another round of testimony, presentation of evidence and rebuttal Thursday and Friday.

The court decided in July that the road Costa Rica built along the Río San Juan is outside of the scope of the present case that Costa Rica has brought against Nicaragua. Consequently there are separate hearings.

The Chinchilla administration decided to construct a 160-kilometer roadway so that police and residents of the area no longer would be required to submit to Nicaraguan jurisdiction when they use the river for transportation. The river is totally part of Nicaragua.

The international border is the south bank where Costa Rica built the roadway.

The roadway has been mired in controversy due to allegations of corruption. The stretch was built, many times by locals, as an emergency measure, so there was not extensive bidding procedure.  In many places the road shows signs of erosion, and some of the bridges that were erected hastily were substandard and have collapsed.

The dispute between the two countries has been going on since October 2010 when Nicaraguan soldiers set up camp in the disputed area and workers began to dig a trench.

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