Dutch police head to Costa Rica to probe murder of two citizens

SAN JOSE (AFP) - A team of Dutch police was to arrive in Costa Rica late Tuesday to investigate the murder of a pair of Dutch expatriates whose decomposing bodies were found in a farm they were managing, a police chief in the Central American country said.

The corpses of the couple were discovered in the property's main house along with that of a Nicaraguan laborer who was also killed, said Walter Espinoza, the head of Costa Rica's OIJ police service that is probing the crime.

He said the hands of the three victims had been bound with plastic tape and the bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition, suggesting they had been murdered approximately a week ago, just after Christmas.

The Dutch pair were identified as Johannes Snelders and Kawitadevi Dhawtal.

Espinoza said they had been residing in Costa Rica for the past eight years and had been taking care of a 350-hectare (865-acre) country property in the village of Sardinal de Puntarenas, near the Pacific coast, 110 kilometres (65 miles) west of the capital San Jose.

"A specialised team from the Dutch police will arrive this evening (Tuesday) to help us cooperate with the investigation," Espinoza said.

He said that although the murdered Dutch couple had been residing in Costa Rica for the past eight years, they had few links to the local community. "We obviously need to know them, study them, know what they were doing," he said.

Contacted by AFP, the Dutch Embassy in Costa Rica declined to comment on the murders or the arrival of the police team from the Netherlands.

Because of the relative isolation in which the Dutch couple lived, the triple murder was not discovered over the end-of-year vacation period, until Monday when another worker on the property turned up and found them.

Espinoza said the police's forensic unit had carried out autopsies to determine the cause of death. But the results have not yet been released.

Social media profiles for Dhawtal, who went by the first name Sita, showed she was interested in house design and decoration, cooking, yoga and massage. Her last public Facebook posting was dated December 22, 2015.