San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ex-President’s Trial Marred By Threats, Accusations

The case against former president Rafael Angel Calderón has reached some pivotal days in the now six-month-long trial, with reports of masked men threatening a witness with a revolver and accusations of lies.

Calderón, who is currently being tried on charges of aggravated corruption, is at the center of the 300-witness trial, accused of bribing public officials to secure a deal with a Finnish medical supply company.

The charges were leveled in 2004, nine years after Calderón left office. The former president has since completed a series of preventive detention terms, both at his home and in a state penitentiary.

In surprise testimony, Walter Reiche, who was the Costa Rican representative of the Finnish company Medko Medical Instrumentarium, said that he paid Calderon money not for “policy advice,” but to ensure and expedite two contracts for $39.5 million to the Finnish firm.

This week, Calderón told local media, “Seven times throughout the years (Reiche) said one thing. Today, he says another. Why? That is what the country should be asking.”

According to Calderón, Reiche had always said the money was for consulting advice, but in his testimony, which has lasted more than a week, Reiche said he referred to the money as payment for a consultation because he was hiding a crime, the daily La Nación reported.

Reiche said, “The truth is there was no consultation, no work documents, no bill or receipt for the payments or a formal contract.”

While Reiche and Calderón trade two sides of the story, another story is unfolding behind the scenes.

According to newspaper reports, an accountant poised to give a testimony relating to the financial harm of the corruption charges on the Social Security System (CCSS), was approached by two men at 9 p.m. what day? and told not to testify. The men took off with two portable laptops.

Reiche said last week he was the victim of a recent assassination attempt.

–Chrissie Long


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