San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica prosecutor wants 7 years of prison time for ex-president

SAN JOSÉ – Costa Rica’s Prosecutor’s Office asked judges for a seven-year prison sentence yesterday for former President Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, saying he helped organize a plan to obtain unauthorized payments from French telecommunications company Alcatel.

Prosecutor Criss González asked judges to sentence Rodríguez to five years in prison for aggravated corruption and an additional two years for illegal profiteering. The prosecutor also wants Rodríguez banned from public office for 12 years.

Rodriguez, who led the Central American country from 1998 to 2002, is on trial for allegedly receiving more than $800,000 in illegal payments from the French telecommunications company in exchange for helping it receive a $149 million government contract to provide 400,000 cell phone lines in 2001.

Prosecutors said Rodríguez, who belonged to the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), had his top advisor, José Antonio Lobo, accept a $2 million commission from Alcatel in exchange for the 400,000 cell phone lines, and the two allegedly agreed to split the kickback.

In addition to Rodríguez, prosecutors also asked for jail time for eight other defendants, including public officials, consultants, lawyers, and the then-representative of Alcatel in Costa Rica, Edgar Valverde.

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