The Minister in Costa Rica ( Hornibrook ) to the Secretary of State

No. 3055

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s telegram No. 56 of March 31, 6 p.m., 1941,10 in which it was reported that officers and crews of the German and Italian merchant ships Eisenach and Fella, recently burned and sunk at Puntarenas were being held in custody in the penitentiary, and to the Legation’s despatch No. 3037 of April 3, 1941,10 in which fear was expressed that the Costa Rican Government cannot be depended upon to keep the members of these crews in custody.

I now have the honor to report that the situation here seems to be undergoing a change in respect to the attitude of this Government toward these crews and present indications are that the Government will adopt rigid measures to hold them in custody, and that they are to be brought to trial. The Legation has been informed that the members of the crew of each of the ships have been charged with arson and wilful obstruction of navigation, with the additional charge of “disobedience of orders” in the case of the crew of the German ship.

According to the local press, in statements published today, declarations made before the investigating judge hearing the case discloses that both captains declared that they had received orders to burn their ships and that the order had been confirmed to the captain of the Eisenach by the German Legation in San José. The press also stated that, taking into consideration the points brought out in the hearing, the judge decreed the prisoners detention, to be held for trial on the charges brought against them, which constitute an attempt against public security.

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Respectfully yours,

Wm. H. Hornibrook
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