Costa Rica nabs man sought on Texas child abuse charges

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 22, 2011 8:54 PM
Costa Rica nabs man sought on Texas child abuse charges

By Alex Leff

SAN JOSE (Reuters) - Costa Rican authorities arrested a doctor wanted in Texas on child molestation charges on Monday, although the Central American nation's laws protect him from being extradited to face justice, prosecutors said.

German Moreno, 50, had fled Texas for his native Costa Rica while free on bond following a 2005 arrest on nine counts ranging from indecency with a child to sexual assault, according to court documents.

An investigation earlier this month by San Jose-based English-language newspaper The Tico Times revealed that Moreno was operating a clinic in Playa Grande, a tourist hotspot on Costa Rica's Pacific coast.

Despite an Interpol arrest warrant, local police did not arrest him because Costa Rican law bars extradition of its nationals.

Moreno had previously been convicted in Costa Rica of sexually assaulting minors in the 1990s, although he had fled to the United States before sentencing. Those charges, however, had expired under a statute of limitations, barring authorities from rearresting Moreno, the prosecutor's office said.

A break came in the case last week when a 19-year-old came forward in Costa Rica and filed charges saying he had been molested at age 16 by Moreno, prompting prosecutors to issue a new warrant for his arrest, said Tatiana Vargas, spokeswoman for the chief prosecutor's office.

Investigative police agents arrested Moreno on Monday outside a residence in the northern San Jose suburb of Tibas and were expected to move him to a court in Garabito, a central Pacific region where the new charge was filed, Vargas said.

In Garabito a judge will decide whether to send Moreno to jail while authorities investigate the molestation claim.

(Editing by Tim Gaynor and Cynthia Johnston)