I (Vicki Skinner - aka "THE Sarong Goddess") created this blog in 2007 to share DETAILED Finds•Lists•Info•Events•Experiences to help bring more EASE to people living in, visiting or thinking of moving to Costa Rica since DETAILS are NOT easy to find!
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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Costa Rica Slander Laws ("Defamation") being brought up against Expat Landowner who's Property is "no longer his"

Because of the "Slander Laws" in Costa Rica being as they are (where even if someone was CLEARLY guilty of a crime, it was video taped, PLENTY of witnesses - if someone spoke "bad" against them - whereby "slandering"/"defaming" them - THAT person could actually have MUCH more serious reprocussions, charges, costs brought against THEM - EVEN if they were FULLY the "victim"!!) - I'm not saying much about what is below (covering my OWN tush!!) BUT I'm posting this so ANYONE even REMOTELY considering moving to Costa Rica and ESPECIALLY if you're thinking about buying ANYTHING here - PLEASE do you due diligence before you come are there IS a chance that what you THINK is yours (even by that lawyer that has "been like family" for YEARS, invited you to spend holidays with their family and even provided you with official looking documents that look perfectly in order) - may not be or MAY one day "change hands" or next thing you know you have a "Squatter" ("a person who settles on land or occupies property without title, right, or payment of rent") living there - ESPECIALLY if you don't live there!!!  And based on MANY people that have shared their stories with me - being a NON-national - chances of YOU winning are slim to none (if you first don't just say "screw it" with ALL the costs/time involved and nightmare - OR - in one friends situation - their life/family threatened by drug dealers that took over their beachfront land from the "manager" that suddenly "died"!!!

If you choose to read this article - you get to draw your OWN conclusions based on what's shared here (or not - I don't care - just "Sharin' Information!!!").

Expat faces defamation charge over YouTube video

Sheldon Hazeltine, the self-described Anglo-American, who is fighting to keep ownership of land in the Central Pacific, has been served with a criminal notice for defamation.

Hazeltine reported this Wednesday, the same day that a separate criminal hearing against him and his lawyer was postponed in Puntarenas court.

Hazeltine is the man who made a 7-minute, 14-second YouTube video -
http://youtube.com/watch?v=_gWphldDYYI describing his 14-year court fight to keep the land he and his partners own. The video is at the heart of the defamation allegation.

The complaint came from Armando González Fonseca of Curridabat, Fuad Farach Abdalah of San Rafael de Escazú, Ricardo Jiménez Montealegre of Sánchez de Curridabat and Otto Giovanni Ceciliano Mora of Santa Lucia de Barva, Heredia.

The case was filed July 24 by Ceciliano Mora, a lawyer. He said that at trial he will show that the video has offended the dignity, decorum, reputation and good name of those bringing the case. The lawyer notes that removing the video from YouTube is unlikely with the order of a judge, suggesting that he may seek this at trial.

The lawyer also entered into evidence a translation of the video by an official translator. The filing also contains statements from those bringing the case that the video has caused damage to family and commercial life.
Defamation in Costa Rica is covered by article 146 of the penal code, which says someone will be penalized with from 20 to 70 days fine for dishonoring another or publishing any sort of material to affect reputation. There also would be the prospect of a civil money award upon conviction.

So far, the YouTube video has had 7,519 views.

However, article 149 provides truth as a defense, particularly if the statements are in the public interest.

The filing by the lawyer makes much of his arrest last year. Hazeltine said in the video that according to local newspapers Ceciliano has three convictions and had been detained in December in a case related to drugs, arms trafficking and money laundering. Ceciliano explains in the filing that he was freed in January by a judge because he was a lawyer and the judge said that he was not part of a criminal ring but just exercising his legal profession as a defensor.

Hazeltine has five days to file an answer to the criminal charge with the court.

Hazeltine said by telephone Wednesday that the Puntarenas criminal case was postponed until October. This is a forgery case brought by González Fonseca challenging Hazeltine's right to represent the corporation that owns the disputed land in a civil case. Hazeltine and his lawyer, Horacio Mejias Portuguez, have been cleared in two trials. But each time the acquittal was annulled on appeal for technical reasons. Even the local prosecutor has supported the pair and says there was no forgery.


Jennifer said...

How does this law, pardon my ignorance for not looking into this more, effect "slander" of a business? IE: Trip Advisor reviews.

Anonymous said...

The trial has at the plaintiffs request been postponed until, December 2013. We suspect they may be having second thoughts as Mr. Ceciliano though remaining a plaintiff no longer represents messrs. Gonzalez, Farach and Jimenez.Slander of a business in this case may refer to the fact that the Gonzales family own the master franchise for Century 21 and and Stewart Title. Both these institutions count on perceived integrity for their customers