San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ticos don't support ex-president's reduced sentence, poll shows

Most citizens remain unhappy with a recent Supreme Court’s decision that allowed former president Rafael Ángel Calderón  walk free on parole despite an embezzlement sentence against him, according to a poll yesterday in the daily La Nación. The research was carried out by the firm Unimer.

The study shows that 62 percent of Costa Ricans disagree with the ruling, 27 percent support it and 12 percent remain neutral in their opinions.

Also, 77 percent of interviewees consider Calderón guilty of embezzlement, regardless what the Supreme Court’s verdict says.

On Oct. 9, 2009, Calderón was sentenced to five years in prison for receiving bribes from the Finnish company Instrumentarium-Medco-Medical. The ex-president used his political influence to grant the Finnish firm a $39.5 million government contract to provide medical equipment to Costa Rica’s Social Security System, known as the Caja.

However, magistrates of the Supreme Court reduced the sentence last Wednesday to three years in prison as a result of an appeal filed by Calderón’s attorneys in June 2010.

The poll was conducted on Thursday and Friday and includes the opinion of 230 people across the country. Of those, only 200 said they were aware of the sentence reduction.

In regards Calderón’s political future, 92 percent of surveyed people consider he should refrain from running for any public office, including presidency.

When Unimer asked what reason magistrates might have for reducing the sentence, 25 percent said, “that’s the nature of politics,” while 14 percent said they believed “only the poor” received jail terms in Costa Rica.

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