Fuerza Pública official named to head the country’s prison police

A new prison director will step in to oversee security in Costa Rica’s penitentiary system. Pablo Bertozzi was named to the position of director of the Policía Pentineciaría Thursday by the justice minister, Cristina Ramírez Chavarría.

Bertozzi is the former sub-director of the Fuerza Pública who brings 20 years of police experience with him to his new post. There he will be joined by Danilo Mesén, who was announced as the new sub-director of the Policía Penitenciaría. Mesén has worked in prison security for 35 years.

“We consider it very important to make these changes with two officials who have had a great track record for safety,” Ms. Ramírez said. “We are convinced that through teamwork, they can elevate and strengthen the important work that the Policía Penitenciaria does.”

The announcement comes after local media outlets reported that the 10 prison guards on trial for inmate Johel Guillermo Araya Ramírez’s 2011 murder were found not guilty Wednesday. Araya died after a failed breakout attempt from La Reforma maximum security prison. His beaten body was found lifeless in his cell a few days after the escape attempt. Araya and other inmates petitioned the Defensoría de los Habitantes to complain about deteriorating conditions in jail just before the failed prison break.

The Sala IV constitutional court determined last week that La Reforma has suffered from recent torture networks initiated by security guards and that Ms. Ramírez had to make immediate changes to improve prison conditions.

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