The General Prosecutor Office reopened an investigation against a candidate for vice mayor for Nicoya this week after The Voice revealed that he had an illegal relationship with a 16-year-old.
Diego Ramírez Núñez is 24 years old and confirmed that he has a relationship with a teenager with whom he has a 5-month-old baby. The adolescent got pregnant at 15 years old according to public data at the national register.
Early last week, The Voice first revealed that the Prosecutor Office opened a case against Núñez and then archived it when the victim refused to declare against him. “We had no proof to continue the investigation”, they claimed through their Press Department. This happened two times last year after two different denunciations.
Ramírez confirmed his relationship both in social media and to the national newspaper Semanario Universidad. After the publication, his political partner and candidate for mayor for the political party Partido Integración Nacional (PIN- National Integration Party) in Nicoya, Jimmy Fonseca, said he didn’t know about the relationship, recognized that it is illegal but said that “it is normal for these couples to start a relationship when there is love” and justified that it is part of Guanacaste’s customs.
In Costa Rica, it is illegal to have a relationship with anyone between ages 15-18 years if the adult is seven years older or more than the victim. According to the new law approved in 2017, it can be penalized with the jail. Same when the victim is anyone between ages 13-15 and the adult is five or more years older.
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After that first publication, Ramírez “voluntarily” resigned from the political campaign and the Ombudsman Office asked the General Prosecutor and the National Institute for Children (PANI in Spanish) for an explanation. General Prosecutor Emilia Navas demanded that the case be reopened.
Navas acknowledged that the Prosecutor’s Office was wrong in the “approach and resolution” of the case when it asked the judges for the dismissal. She told The Voice that she herself ruled two years ago that every prosecutor should continue investigating cases in which women’s lives were at risk even if the victim refused to participate or to declare.
PANI also reacted to the story published by The Voice. Officials went to the teenager’s house and confirmed that she had a relationship with Ramírez and that she and her baby were living a “risky situation”. PANI’s officials took her to a temporary shelter while the investigation continues and social and legal intervention is being practiced with her family to evaluate new steps to come.
“She won’t stay at the shelter forever”, PANI’s press department clarified.
According to PANI, the teenager’s mother tried to file a complaint against Ramírez last year, but it was already under investigation. After the case was dismissed by the courts, she said she “thought the relationship wasn’t illegal”, but a relative went to the police again and filed a new complaint. This last one was dismissed again.
At the Partido Integración Nacional, Fonseca’s declarations provoked national legislator Zoila Volio’s resignation.
There are circumstances that force us to decide between loyalty to a party and fidelity to the principles. The support for a deputy mayor candidate investigated for a sexual offense against a minor is a red line that I cannot afford to cross”, she claimed in a letter.