The blind and deaf elderly woman who had lived trapped in her home in the community of Garza de Nosara was moved to the Elderly Care Home in Nicoya on Wednesday, June 18, by order of the Public Ministry.
That was confirmed by Aymee Caravaca, the fiscal attached to the second judicial circuit of Guanacaste, who stated that the Public Ministry began an investigation of the case of Maria Tomasa Barrantes, known as Doña Aquina, due to an article published in the June 12 edition of The Voice of Guanacaste.
“Based on the news, we are proceeding with an investigation for possible criminal acts of physical or psychological aggression that are established by comprehensive law for the elderly. Those are two criminal acts, and it could also involve the restriction of freedom. The investigation is for those three possible criminal acts, to determine who was the person who left her in that situation,” explained Caravaca.
In addition to those crimes, there is also an investigation as to whether the case involves exploitation of the elderly.
According to Caravaca, the National Council for the Elderly (CONAPAM – Consejo Nacional para la Persona Mayor) intervened in the case, taking charge of finding a place where Aquina could be cared for, as she suffers from syphilis.
Catalina Zuñiga, spokesperson for CONAPAM, said that Barrantes will remain at the Nicoya facility on a temporary basis, as there is not enough room. However, the organization is looking for other care networks that could receive her.
For now, the investigation will continue. Upon proving that there were any crimes, an accusation against the responsible parties would be drawn up and the case would move into an intermediary phase. In that stage, a judge would evaluate whether there is enough evidence to send the case to court.
Barrantes is 75 years old. She lost her sight and also suffers from hearing problems. The elderly woman had been trapped in her home for two years and shouted at all times of day.
In a video recorded by The Voice of Guanacaste during a visit to the site, it was shown that Doña Aquina did in fact shout and bang against walls as she tried to leave the home.
According to Ana Barrantes, Doña Aquina’s daughter, her mother was kept closed in because her family did not have the ability to take constant care of her; they feared she would get lost. In addition, Barrantes said that when they would take Aquina outside, she would shout and run away.
“I cannot leave [the house] open. When we had it unlocked, she would leave and she escaped a number of times; more than once I found her lost and wet,” explained her daughter.