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Lawyer files extradition court brief in defense of fathers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff


Source: http://www.amcostarica.com/2008072201.htm


A Costa Rican lawyer who has represented men in extradition hearings has filed a supreme court brief in the case of a U.S. mother who kidnapped her daughter and lived as a fugitive for 10 years in Costa Rica.

The lawyer is Arcelio Hernández of Bufete Hernández Mussio y Asociados. He said he did so “because I feel that women are treated differently than men in cases involving the abduction of children.”

This is the case of Chere Lyn Tomayko, 46, a U.S. citizen who took her 7-year-old daughter Alexandria out of Texas after a court there awarded joint custody to her and her former boyfriend. Ms. Tomayko has been the object of a public relations campaign seeking to prevent her extradition on the U.S. federal child stealing charge.

The Sala IV constitutional court is examining briefs this week to determine if there are constitutional grounds to prevent the extradition.

Hernández filed what could be considered a friend of the court brief supporting the Procuraduría General de la República, which is seeking the extradition at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Lined up against the extradition is the  Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres, the Defensoría Pública and some members of the news media. The Defensoría brief seeks to break new legal ground because it claims that a woman gains Costa Rican nationality simply by marrying a Costa Rican man.

Hernández, in his brief, correctly points out that the Costa Rican Constitution only permits this when the woman loses her own nationality by reason of the union. He notes that this is not the case with U.S. citizenship.

The Defensoría is relying on a section of the Constitution

that prohibits the extradition of Costa Rican nationals. The
Constitutional also says that when a woman marries a Costa Rican and does not lose her citizenship there is a two-year waiting before she has the right to apply for citizenship here. The Defensoría brief does not mention this.

Hernández said in his brief that he represented one man who fled to Costa Rica and said that his two daughters were victims of aggression by the mother. Nevertheless, the man was extradited, said Hernández.

Ms. Tomayko is claiming that she was a victim of abuse by her former boyfriend, Roger Cyprian, even though the couple lived together only for a short time and Cyprian said that he hardly saw her in the three years leading up to her flight.

Hernández said that although there are obvious physical and emotional differences between men and women “one cannot say that a father does not feel pain or he is not a victim that deserves the protection of the state before a mother who illegally takes and transports  as son or daughter to a distant land, leaving in this way a terrible situation of emotional pain and feelings of impotence and fear.”

Yet, Hernández said in a covering e-mail, “I have never seen such efforts by so many public institutions to avoid an extradition of a requested fugitive who happens to be a man.”

The lawyer urged the court to reject the briefs in favor of Ms Tomayko to preserve the respect for the rule of law and to avoid making Costa Rica a place where parental abductors can hide in the future.

Ms. Tomayko married her Costa Rican companion in April after the extradition process was well under way but before a formal order was issued by a court in Heredia. She also has two children here by the man.  She has been in prison for 10 months fighting the extradition.


Karen Real Estate - Costa Rica´s Finest

Costa Rica Escrow deposits

By: Karen Real Estate

Original Source: http://karenrealestate.com/info/escrow-deposits.4.html


When a foreign investor wishes to venture into the Costa Rica Real Estate market, one of the first questions that come up is how the legal system operates, how it protects investors, and how it could facilitate or hinder the achievement of desired projects. Costa Rica has experienced in recent years the incursion of big names in the industry, such as Four Seasons, Marriott, Wyndham Garden, St. Regis, and others, as well as serious developers, who are usually accustomed to the concept of escrow deposits, and dealing with escrow agents. On the other hand, it’s not uncommon for less-sophisticatedland owners to be completely unfamiliar with the concept of an escrow agent. This is truly a shame, because an escrow deposit offers security for all parties involved in a transaction, when the agent is registered as an administrator of third-party funds.

An escrow deposit maybe defined as a money deposit entrusted to an agent, usually by way of a bank to bank wire transfer, to be kept in custody, and to be managed and disbursed according to a real estate agreement.

The escrow agent is a good-faith, impartial participant, and the funds become his responsibility when they are received and accepted. The main interested parties, of course, are the depositor and the beneficiary of such a deposit. The buyer is also guaranteed that the conditions specified in the contract will be satisfied prior to any funds being released, which means that both parties are more fully protected. The seller, in turn, is also ensured that the buyer does in fact have the financial ability to complete a specific transaction, and thus he feels that the time and effort invested in preliminary agreements are worthwhile.

It is common for the agent to be a law firm. In all cases, escrow agents must be registered with the governmental entity called SUGEF, which is an acronym for Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras, the public entity that supervises banks and administrators of third party funds, and it is mandatory for agents to be properly registered with this institution, under the law against money laundering and drug trafficking, Law 8204.

If you need a list of Escrow agents we worked with in Costa Rica, please contact us at karen@karenrealestate.com

Article by Lic. Arcelio Hernandez Mussio


Title vs. Concession: Two Different Ball Games

Source: http://www.ticotimes.net/2006/10/06/title-vs-concession-two-different-ball-games


Those looking to own their own slice of Costa Rica’s natural beauty will find an attractive real estate market in Costa Rica, in which both Ticos and foreigners can own land.

Outside of Costa Rica’s national reserves and beaches, all land is fair game for those looking to own. But Costa Rica’s pristine coasts are for public or restricted use and are regulated by coastal municipalities.

However, experts say those looking to buy land should keep an eye out for title fraud, and those seeking a concession should understand their contract well to avoid legal problems.

The 1977 Maritime Zone Law was passed to protect Costa Rica’s coastal natural resources by dedicating the first 50 meters of the coastline to public use. The next 150 meters are considered a “restricted” zone, which coastal municipalities manage and can concession out. With the exceptions of coastal cities and towns such as Puntarenas, Jacó and Golfito on the Pacific and the Caribbean port of Límon, the Martime Zone Law applies to all coastal municipalities, according to Arcelio Hernández, a lawyer for Bufete Hernández Mussio in the central Pacific beach town of Jacó (643-3058).

The way a concession works, Hernández said, is that the land is owned by the state but is administered by the municipalities. Once they have established zoning plans – and many municipalities have yet to do so – municipalities can concession out the land to a person or licensed business.

The spirit of the law was to set aside Costa Rica’s rich coasts for Costa Ricans, Hernández said. Someone applying for a concession with a municipality must be a Costa Rican citizen, or must have been a legal resident for at least five years. However, licensed businesses can also apply for concessions, as long as at least 51% of the businesses’ shares are in the name of a Costa Rican.

Hernández said that in some cases foreigners end up indirectly running concessions because after the company has received the concession, it sells all of it shares to a foreigner.

Concessions generally last for 15 years, though the terms of each concession are established in a contract between the concessionaire and the municipality, and the length of contract can vary, according to Hernández. He said most concessions can be renewed when a contract expires.

“The difference between a concession and titled land is that land under concessions remains in the hands of the state,” Hernández said, adding that there are no restrictions on who can and cannot obtain a title.

Those seeking to build on titled or concession land should go through their respective municipalities for building permits, Hernández said.

Fraud and Legal Troubles

Those seeking a title should be aware of a growing title fraud problem, and those seeking concessions should study their contracts well, according to Juan Carlos Ruiz.

Ruiz works in project development for Stewart Title Costa Rica (www.stewartcr.com, 258-5600), a company that offers title and concession insurance, with offices in San José, the northwestern province of Guanacaste and Jacó.

Though title insurance is not very popular among Latin Americans – Ruiz said the majority of his customers are North Americans – demand is increasing for the service as Costa Rica’s growing real estate market invites fraud.

He said concessions carry a certain amount of risk, too, for someone misunderstanding the regulations in a contract.

“There can be a problem in the future because they could be buying something that has enormous legal problems,” Ruiz said.

Though legal contract issues have always been a problem, he said his company is beginning to see an increase in title fraud cases.

“We’ve seen a lot of problems in the coastal zones and titled properties outside of San José,” he said. “We’ve found many falsified documents in the public registry.”

He said those buying land outside of San José who intend to use it for a second home are at risk of fraud.

“Foreigners and even Costa Ricans buy and leave,” he said. “People know they’re not there very much, so they sell them a title falsely, and then turn around and legally sell the title to someone else.”