Ex-transport minister to be questioned in January in border-road probe

December 18, 2012

Former Public Works and Transport Minister Francisco Jiménez said on Monday at a press conference that he did not plan on traveling to Serbia, as revealed last week in the press, and the entire ordeal was a mistake by airline Aeromexico, which wrote MNE (Montenegro) instead of MEX (for Mexico) in his flight tickets.

Jiménez returned to Costa Rica Sunday at 11 p.m. after a controversy arose Wednesday when Judicial Investigation Police officials (OIJ) issued a “yellow alert” with Interpol, believing he had traveled to Serbia.

Jiménez said he traveled to Cancún on vacation with his family, and that “it was a coincidence” that his departure was the day after OIJ agents arrested six people under investigation for irregularities in the construction of a border road. “The trip was planned weeks ago,” Jiménez said.

Chief Prosecutor Jorge Chavarría said last week that Jiménez would be questioned in January by an ethics and corruption prosecutor.

The former minister said at the press conference that he was the one who filed a complaint about irregularities in the road project, therefore he is a witness and not a defendant in the investigation. He also said that even if not called to testify by prosecutors, he would stay in the country for as long as he is needed for the investigation.

Last Wednesday, OIJ agents arrested Carlos Acosta, former director of National Roadway Council, Manuel Serrano, former director of the Route 1856 project, Miguel Ramírez, a former supervisor of the project, and private businessmen Johnny Muñoz, David Castillo and Geovanni Baralis.

They are being investigated for alleged embezzlement in the construction of Route 1856, a 160-km road parallel to the Río San Juan on the border with Nicaragua..

Only Serrano and Ramírez remain in custody, although the prosecution appealed the decision to release the other four under investigation.

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