San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Parmenio Medina Murder Trial Begins

THE trial of nine people alleged to have played a role in the 2001 murder of journalist Parmenio Medina began Tuesday with the interrogation of John Gilberto Gutiérrez, whom prosecutors finger as one of the middlemen who hired the killers.The Prosecutor’s Office called 145 witnesses and entered 803 pieces of evidence, nine volumes of files and 91 tapes of bugged phone calls, all of which will come into play throughout the course of the trial, the length of which is impossible to estimate, wire service ACAN-EFE reported.The road to the trial has been tedious – judges decided to take the nine to trial in June, more than six months after they were formally accused on Dec. 7, 2004, and nearly four years after Medina was gunned down outside his home on July 7, 2001 (TT, Dec. 10, 2004).All nine will face trial for homicide, while Catholic priest Minor Calvo, who, together with businessman Omar Chaves, is considered the impetus and brains behind the murder, will be tried for coercion as well.The alleged triggerman, Luis Alberto Aguirre, and a journalist for the daily Diario Extra, Adrián Marrero, who allegedly gave Aguirre a cell phone when he was in prison, will also be tried for coercion. Marrero is not accused of Medina’s murder, but is on trial because Aguirre called a witness with his phone and told the witness he knows where the witness’s house is (the witness’s name and gender have not been released).Aguirre, a Nicaraguan known as “El Indio,” told The Tico Times from his cell last year that he confessed to the murder, and claimed Chaves and Calvo are innocent (TT, April 16, 2004).Colombians John Gutiérrez, Jorge Castillo, Danny Smith and Juan Hernández will be tried for murder, as will Costa Ricans Juan Gabriel Carvajal and Randall González.Medina, a Colombian-born Costa Rican radio journalist, was shot pointblank three times in the head and torso outside his home. He had produced a series of investigative reports denouncing financial irregularities in the then-widely popular and now-defunct Catholic radio station Radio María, which was founded and managed by Calvo and bankrolled by Chaves (TT, Jan. 9, 2004).

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