San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Chief Prosecutor Makes Bid For Supreme Court Seat

Chief Prosecutor Francisco Dall’Anese shares the lead in the race for a seat on the Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala III).

Justices are elected to eight-year terms by a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Assembly. The assembly’s Nomination Commission rates all candidates using a point system based on an interview, academic background, law experience, teaching and published works. The commission then recommends three candidates, at least one of whom must be a woman, to the whole assembly for voting.

Dall’Anese received 88 points out of 100 in this rating process, tied with judge Ronald Salazar. Judge Rosaura Chinchilla received 66 points and became the commission’s third recommendation, according to the daily La Nación.

Dall’Anese’s decision to seek a Sala III seat has been highly publicized, thanks to his role as the leader of corruption investigations involving two ex-Presidents and a host of other public figures.When former heads of state Rafael Angel Calderón, Jr. (1990-1994) and Miguel Angel Rodríguez (1998-2002) were arrested and imprisoned in 2004, the soft-spoken leader of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office took center stage and was named Newsmaker of the Year by the dailies La Nación and Al Día.

More than two years later, the investigations are still under way, and the ex-Presidents are out on bail. They are accused of having accepted kickbacks related to foreign companies’ public contracts in Costa Rica, but prosecutors have not yet formally charged them with any crime.

During his interview with the Nominations Commission Nov. 9, Citizen Action Party (PAC) legislator Olivier Pérez asked Dall’Anese if his departure would have a negative impact on the investigations.

“I’m not fleeing from anything,” Dall’Anese replied, according to a statement from the assembly. “Every time one leaves a public office, there are always pending cases, and no one can stay captive to a position because there are obligations to meet.”

He told Al Día he would not participate in reviewing the ex-President’s cases if they should ever reach the Sala III.

Legislators from the leading National Liberation Party (PLN) are keeping mum about whether they’ll give the Chief Prosecutor their vote, according to Al Día. However, the members of the anti-corruption Citizen Action Party (PAC) have thrown their support behind him.

A third ex-President accused of involvement with a corruption scandal, José María Figueres (1994-1998), has been out of the country since the investigations began but is rumored to be returning next month for his daughter’s wedding. PAC legislator Alberto Salom told Al Día he would ask Figueres to explain payments he allegedly accepted related to a telecommunications contract here.

However, the Judicial Branch has issued no arrest warrant for Figueres, who is classified as a “suspicious witness” in the case that temporarily put Rodríguez behind bars.


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