San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Prosecutors File Charges Against Ex-President Calderón

Well over two years since the government’s investigation of ex-President Rafael Angel Calderón, Jr., began, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office has apparently filed charges against the former head of state, moving the case one step closer to a trial.

Calderón (1990-1994) is charged with embezzlement and aggravated corruption, according to the daily La Nación, whose reports about alleged corruption by current and former public officials played a major role in launching the investigations of Calderón and others in late 2004.

Six others including former Social Security System (Caja) President Eliseo Vargas, former Caja board member Gerardo Bolaños and Corporación Fischel President Walter Reiche face the same charges, the daily reported.

Judicial Branch spokesman Fabián Barrantes told The Tico Times the details of the charges as published by La Nación and other dailies are not public information, so he cannot confirm them. He said he does not know how the dailies obtained copies of the document, and added, “It is a problem –(the information) escapes.”

Calderón allegedly masterminded the distribution of a $9.2 million “commission” on the Caja’s $39.5 million medical-equipment purchase of medical equipment from Finnish company Instrumentarium (TT, Oct. 22, 2004). He was arrested in late 2004 and held in a series of preventive detention terms, both at his home and in a state penitentiary, for approximately one year.

Since his release on bail, he has met with legislators (TT, Nov. 25, 2005) and expressed his interest in running for President again in 2010 (TT,March 9).

According to La Nación, the Government Attorney’s Office and the Caja are both named as victims in the Prosecutor’s Office document and must now decide whether they wish to act as co-plaintiffs in the case. If not, the Prosecutor’s Office will proceed on its own, with the next step being review by a judge to determine whether the case will go to trial.

Another ex-President, Miguel Angel Rodríguez (1998-2002), is also under investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office, but no charges have been filed against him.


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