San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Prosecutors Demand Prison, Fine In Calderón Trial

Prosecutors in the corruption trail of Rafael Angel Calderón called this week for a prison sentence of 24 years for the former president of Costa Rica.

Also, the office of the attorney general demanded that Calderón reimburse the state $89 million for “social damages.”

The drama that has dragged on for more than four years, included testimonies of 150 witnesses and grievously damaged the image of one of the country’s leading political families is expected to conclude in the next several weeks.

Calderón said in a statement released this week that he remains optimistic about the outcome.

“The prosecution is acting pursuant to political interests, rather than looking for justice and truth,” he said. “I thank God I am in the hands of a tribunal that is serious, independent and competent. And I am confident in God and in our justice tribunals.”

Calderón is accused of accepting $520,000 from a Finnish medical equipment company in return for a contract with Costa Rica’s Social Security system. Calderón admits that he accepted the money, but he insists it was payment for consultations and not a bribe.

According to Miguel Cortés, of the attorney general’s office, Calderón’s actions had implications in the national economy, were attacks on the credibility of the country’s democratic system and resulted in a direct loss of over $11 million.

Based on a tally of these costs (including the lost opportunities for other purchases and the harm done to the reputation of government institutions), the attorney general is calling on Calderón to reimburse the state for $89 million.

Calderón and his supporters have insisted the case has no merit. “From the first day, it was a persecution against Rafael Angel Calderón,” said Luis Fishman, president of the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC). “They delayed the trial for over four years to link it to the political campaign (Calderón is running for president of PUSC in the 2010 elections). And now, the disproportional request of the prosecutor underlines the cruelty against our leader and the party.”

–Chrissie Long


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