San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Appeal Broadens in Case Of Slain Journalist

Judges have allowed the introduction of new evidence in the Parmenio Medina murder case, now under appeal by defense attorneys for two of the lead suspects. Five more witnesses for the defense were permitted to give their testimony earlier this month, however only three showed up, court spokeswoman Andrea Marín said.

Medina was a Colombian national and resident of Costa Rica who had a popular radio show called “La Patada” that often criticized powerful figures with satire. He was shot point-blank three times in the head and torso outside his home on July 7, 2001, shortly after producing what would become his last radio show (TT, Jan. 9, 2004).

Two of the prime suspects in the case, Catholic priest Minor Calvo and his business partner, Omar Chaves, after a six-year investigation and prosecution, were convicted late last year of fraud and homicide, respectively (TT, Dec. 21, 2007). Calvo was acquitted of the murder charge, however, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, and Chaves received 35.

Medina had often criticized the priest and Calvo’s Radio María religious show for improper use of religious donations to maintain the priest’s lavish lifestyle, such as purchasing cruises to the Bahamas and Florida.

According to judges and prosecutors, it was Chaves who paid another individual, Luis Aguirre, also known as “El Indio,” to arrange the hit. Aguirre was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years.

At their 2007 sentencing, criminal court judges agreed with Medina’s claims that Calvo had taken advantage of his Radio María audience, convicting him of fraud.

Other individuals were charged as accessories to murder but, like Calvo, were also acquitted: Juan Carvajal, Randall González, Danny Smith, John Gutiérrez, Juan Hernández and Jorge Castillo.

The daily La Nación reported that prosecutors Cristian Ulate, Sebastián Mesén and José Rojas are still fuming over the acquittals of the priest and others and are requesting the judges retry the case.

Marín said the judges have not granted the prosecutors’ request for a retrial and were unlikely to do so.

She said there is no time limit for the defense’s appeal to be resolved.


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