San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ex-President Miguel Ángel Rodríguez asks judges to overturn corruption conviction

Speaking before an appeals court on Monday, former Costa Rican President Miguel Ángel Rodríguez asked judges to overturn a corruption conviction against him, saying the Prosecutor’s Office “convicted [Rodríguez] with illegally obtained evidence.”

Rodríguez, president from 1998-2002, was sentenced in 2011 to five years in prison for aggravated corruption in a case involving the former French telecom company Alcatel and the Costa Rican Electricity Institute, or ICE. ICE officials were convicted of accepting bribes in exchange for the awarding of 400,000 GSM cellphone lines to Alcatel.

The former president and secretary general of the Organization of American States was released from jail and is currently serving his sentence under house arrest.

He is now trying to get the conviction overturned. Rodríguez said the Prosecutor’s Office never should have called former ICE board member José Antonio Lobo as a witness, “as all his statements were false.” Rodríguez, who has consistently maintained his innocence, criticized prosecutors for refusing to investigate payments received by Lobo.

The ICE-Alcatel trial began on April 23, 2010, and the final verdict was delivered on April 27, 2011.

Also convicted in the case on charges of of aggravated corruption, fraud and illicit gain were Edgar Valverde (former Alcatel manager, sentenced to 20 years), Luis Adrián Quirós (attorney, 15 years), Guido Sibaja (ICE consultant, 15 years), Eliseo Vargas (former lawmaker, two years), Joaquín Fernández (former ICE board member, five years), Rodrigo Méndez and Eduardo Fonseca (ICE officials, two years each).

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