On an unpleasant and confusing subject, the news reached us just over a week ago that Ben Vaughn's assailant, the man who bludgeoned him beyond recognition, kicked him repeatedly once he was on the ground and then left him for dead, has been released from custody. lt seems that the Costa Rican judicial system calls for a hearing at the end of a 90 incarceration to re-assess the sentencing of the accused. At this hearing, if there are no objections and if there is someone to assume responsibility for the accused, they can be set free.
One would logically presume, and in this case, desperately hope, that the victim and his attorney would be present to present their case and lodge their protests against the prospective release of the accused. Oddly, and frighteningly, Ben Vaughn and his attorney Randall Vargas, were never informed of the date of the hearing, although the brother of the accused was notified in sufficient time to be able to travel here from the US where he lives, and vouchsafe for his soon to be freed brother.
The ramifications of this nose thumbing at justice are huge and ugly. The first horrifying thought is that the assailant, a man with a long record of violent crime is back on the streets with a grudge. Since his release there has already been a theft at Ben's property. lt is impossible to imagine the fear and apprehension in the minds of Ben and Natalie in the face of this constant threat to their safety.
The second, and while less threatening, but equally horrible aspect of this is the complete collapse of any system in this country that protects the victims of violent crime. Ben Vaughn is a man who has believed staunchly, through his slow recovery from an attack that has changed his life, that justice would be served. He dragged his beaten and traumatized body to hearings and depositions just days after his release from lntensive Care so that the criminal justice system here would have the information it needed to perform its duties. And for Ben, for any of us, to discover through word of mouth, with NO notification of a hearing, that his attacker is back on the streets, is the worst kind of slap in the face.
How is he, how are any of us in Costa Rica to be protected from violent crime, when the legal system has no control over the attacker and no respect for the victims?