San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ex-President Calderón Returns Home from Jail

LIKE fellow ex-President MiguelÁngel Rodríguez (1998-2002) before him,former head of state Rafael ÁngelCalderón, Jr. (1990-1994) left the penitentiaryLa Reforma March 23, after fivemonths of preventive detention there, toreturn to his western San José home, hispreventive prison order having been commutedto house arrest.Both former heads of state are underinvestigation by the Prosecutor’s Officeon charges including illicit enrichment.Rodríguez is accused of accepting illegalpayments related to a state telecommunicationscontract granted to the global firmAlcatel during his presidency, andCalderón, of receiving and distributingfunds related to a medical equipment purchaseby the Social Security System(Caja) in 2001 (TT, Oct. 22, 2004).A judge ordered Calderón to pay ¢200million ($427,000) in bail.On Friday, March 18, a judge extendedCalderón’s preventive detention order,originally set to end March 22, for threemore months. However, his defense teamfiled an appeal March 21. His currenthouse arrest order expires June 23.The reasons for the judges’ decisionsare confidential. However, Calderón’sdefense attorney, Gonzalo Castellón, toldthe wire service EFE that one of the argumentsfor house arrest had been that theinvestigation is nearing completion,reducing the risk suspects might tamperwith evidence. Rodríguez’s lawyers madethe same argument, securing his move tohouse arrest on March 15 (TT, March 18).This week, a judge extended until July27 the preventive detention order of JoséAntonio Lobo, the Alcatel corruption casesuspect who implicated Rodríguez in thescandal last year (TT, Oct. 8, 15, 22, 2004).

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