An argument over a cell phone provoked the altercation that ended the life of a French citizen who was stabbed on Wednesday in Playas del Coco. Judical police (OIJ) in the regional office of Santa Cruz, identified the victim as a citizen of France, Christophe Jean Lietaert. Social networks indicate that he was Chef instructor at the Culinary Institute of Mexico. The victim was 48 years old, and had been in Costa Rica to celebrate his birthday.
Police Investigation Reports Tourist Murdered for Cell Phone
According to the preliminary investigation by the judical police (OIJ) the victim had lost the cell phone on Tuesday in a dispute with 2 men. On Wednesday, while walking towards Playas del Coco the men and the victim renewed the dispute. One of the suspects is reported to have assaulted the victim. Initial forensic examination indicated that the victim suffered multiple stab wounds in his chest, shoulders and neck.
According to immigration records, Lietaert entered the country on January 13, which was the day after his birthday. At the time of death, he had been in Costa Rica for 9 days. Records also show that Lietaert visited the country previously for several days in 2012.
Playas del Coco Association Issues Press Release
On Wednesday, Flor de Lis Víquez Alvarado the President of ADICOCO issued a press release. In the statement she denounces the act of violence and the loss of human life. However, in the same statement she asks the public not to “mistreat” the image of Plays de Coco for the purposes of tourism. She relates that the victim was in fact a part of the local narcotic drug problem that authorities have failed to control.
She continued to describe the victim as a “tourist”, using quotation marks and warning that travelers who come to Costa Rica in persuit of a drug hobby are exposed to robbery, violence or murder, as is the case in other parts of the world.
Crime is a Problem for Tourism in Costa Rica
ADICOCO is the local association that promotes development in Playas del Coco. According to govisitcostarica.com, the main attraction of Playas de Coco is that it’s easily accessible via Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, and is perfect for fishing and “partying at the beach”. Located on the northern neck of the Nicoya Peninsula, Playas del Coca is the largest village in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica, and is close to the border with Nicaragua.
Recently during a visit, President Carlos Alvarado asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reconsider a Level 2 Travel Advisory, which recommends increased caution in Costa Rica due to crime. President Alvarado cited that the advisory would contribute to economic problems in Costa Rica. In 2019, the country’s prison population reached it’s highest level in national history. The financial crisis has precluded the hiring of additional police investigators, who have been detailed away from investigations, in order to guard prison inmates attending court hearings.