April 28th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) The trial of ten prison guards accused of homicide, aggravated assault and abuse of authority related to the 2011 death of inmate Johel Araya is scheduled to begin today in the Criminal Court of Alajuela, and 48 witnesses are expected to participate in the trial.
Araya was found dead in his prison cell at the maximum-security unit of La Reforma prison in May 2011. An autopsy revealed that Araya died from a cerebral aneurysm as the result of a severe beating.
The beating death of Araya occurred days after Araya allegedly led a failed prison break with other inmates and the alleged cooperation of paid-off prison guards.
One prison guard and two inmates were killed in the failed escape. Judicial authorities later began an investigation into scores of prison guards when it was found that inmates had keys to 18 of the maximum security cells, as well as cellular phones to coordinate the escape. Authorities believed prison guards accepted payment for their cooperation.
Araya had accused the guards of beating him regularly in the days following the failed prison break. Two days before his death, Araya was able to file an appeal with the Constitutional Court regarding the abuses inside the prison.
Araya alleged in his filing that he suffered constant beatings, being kicked with steel-toe boots and clubbed on his head and other parts of his body.
Araya was serving 65 years for a variety of criminal offenses, including a prior escape from the prison in 2006.
Bedoya said the two defendants whom she represents face sentences of 20 to 35 years in prison, but are confident that they will be acquitted.
The trial is expected to last about a month.