San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Supreme Court Postpones Hearing on War Support

THE Constitutional Chamber of theSupreme Court (Sala IV) was set to begina review today of three motions of unconstitutionalityfiled against President AbelPacheco and his administration for thedecision to support the U.S.-led invasion ofIraq last year.However, Judicial Branch officialsannounced yesterday afternoon that thehearing was postponed because SupremeCourt president Luis Paulino Mora and aSala IV justice had to submit new budgetproposals for the Judicial Branch to theFinance Ministry, making the hearingimpossible. At press time, no other datehad been set.Asked about the motions this week, thePresident said he had been very clear abouthis “position against terrorism.”“We’ll have to see what the Sala IVsays,” he said.Ombudsman José Manuel Echandifiled one of the injunctions. Lawyer LuisRoberto Zamora and Dunia Chacón of theCosta Rican Lawyers’Association filed theother two. All three were to explain to aSupreme Court justice today how theybelieve the President violated theConstitution.ECHANDI, one of Pacheco’s mostvocal critics, last year claimed that thePresident’s support of the war violated 15laws and international treaties ratified byCosta Rica (TT, April 4, 2003).Representatives of the Judicial Branchsaid Government Attorney Farid Beirutewould be at the hearing, as he is obliged torepresent the interest of the state, andForeign Minister Roberto Tovar wouldlikely attend, though his presence is notmandatory.Beirute declared his opinion about thematter in a statement sent to the Sala IVMay 12, 2003.“The decision of the government toinclude the country on the list is unconstitutional,as there is no authorization fromthe Security Council (of the UnitedNations) for the use of armed forces, forthe reassurance of peace and internationalsecurity,” Beirute wrote.THE list Beirute referred to is theWhite House list of countries forming the“Coalition of the Willing,” comprised of49 nations whose governments offeredmilitary, logistical or political support forthe Iraq invasion. Costa Rica is member ofthe coalition.Marvin Carvajal, a Professor ofConstitutional law at the University ofCosta Rica, said that if the Sala IV determinesthat support of the war is unconstitutional,the only concrete effect wouldbe that Costa Rica would have to take thediplomatic action necessary to removethe country’s name from the coalition.Pacheco made it clear Tuesday there islittle chance he would voluntarily removeCosta Rica from the list during his administration.“THERE does not exist the mostremote possibility that Costa Rica will ceaseto consider terrorism as a barbarity in thisworld that should be condemned,” thePresident said during Tuesday’s Cabinetmeeting when asked about the list. “CostaRica has always held a position against terrorism,against dictators, in favor of humanrights and in favor of democracy. CostaRica will continue to do so.”The President has carefully avoided theuse of the word “war” when discussing hisstance on the invasion, and even went sofar as to say “I never supported any war”last month when questioned about Iraq(TT, May 14).In response to his uncompromisingposition, several activist groups last weekheld a ceremony at the LegislativeAssembly and symbolically removedCosta Rica from the list and chastisedPacheco for his stance on Iraq.DANIEL Camacho, president of theCentral America Court of Human Rights,was present at the ceremony and discussed“crimes of treason against humanity committedagainst the people of Iraq by theinvading coalition with the complicity ofthe Costa Rican government,” according toorganizers of the event.Costa Rican law allows the Sala IV onemonth from the initial hearing to rule on themotions, except in the case of “extremecomplexity” surrounding the motions.A representative of the Judicial Branchthis week said a delay for that reason is notlikely.

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