San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Former President’s Trial Postponed Until Monday

The long-awaited trial against former president Miguel Angel Rodríguez was pushed back again on Wednesday, after one of the accused was rushed to the hospital for an appendix operation.

The trial, scheduled for Wednesday morning, was postponed until Monday to allow Rodrigo Méndez, a former Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) employee, time to recover.

The case involves over $2.5 million in bribes and nine total suspects. It began in 2000 when French telecommunications firm Alcatel allegedly influenced a bid to win an ICE cell phone contract. Former president Rodríguez (1998-2002) is accused of accepting more than $600,000 in payments.

In 1994, the former president was arrested upon his return from New York after renouncing his post as secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Eduardo Araya, one of the former president’s lawyers, told EFE news service that he feels “optimistic and has faith” that at the end of the process Rodríguez will be completely absolved.

Rodríguez told the Associated Press that he hoped to demonstrate his innocence, but feared he would be convicted.

Rodríguez’ trial follows on the heels of that of former president Rafael Angel Calderón, who was convicted in October 2009 on charges of embezzlement.

Calderón, who charged was sentenced to five years in prison and a half million dollar fine, is currently appealing the decision in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

–Chrissie LongCH

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