Long-time fugitive caught, but many others still sought

Judicial agents picked up a fugitive convicted of attempted murder in Roble de Puntarenas Wednesday. The woman had been a fugitive since 1997.

But the Judicial Investigating Organization also said that 29 men and three woman still are loose even though they have been convicted and sentenced.

The judicial agency has a special unit to make captures. The courts frequently allow prisoners to go free even after they have been sentenced with the expectation that they will return to serve their time.

Periodically, the judicial agency releases photos and brief summaries of the people who did not surrender. The current batch contains a Frenchman, Cristopher Aquin Mansuelle, but no U.S. citizens or Canadians.  Mansuelle was convicted of armed robbery.
The crimes of the others include murder, robbery, international drug trafficking, drug possession and aggravated rape, among others.

The woman detained Wednesday was working in a small restaurant in the center of Roble de Puntarenas, said the judicial agency. She had been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for two counts of attempted murder and one of drug trafficking. She was identified as Estrella Arias Méndez and is 51, the agency said.

The attempted murder charges relate to a raid the judicial agents made on her home in Pérez Zeldón Nov. 28, 1997. She fired on the group of agents and hit one in the shoulder and another in the chest, the agency said.

She was convicted and sentenced, but her lawyer filed an appeal, and she was placed in home detention while the appeal was being processed. Eventually the appeal was denied, but the woman had vanished.

Agents thought that she had left the country, so they said they filed an international arrest warrant in 2008.

The agents who detained her were acting under the authority of the International Police Agency, which is now housed with other Judicial Investigating Organization offices.

The judicial agency said they were tipped off by an acquaintance of the woman as to her whereabouts.

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