The old ‘too-sick-for-trial’ ruse?

January 6, 2014

National Liberation Party (PLN) lawmaker Jorge Angulo Mora remained hospitalized on Monday after complaining of heart problems and checking in at Hospital La Católica in San José on Saturday morning.

Angulo, 60, a legislator from Puntarenas, was scheduled to stand trial at 8:30 a.m. Monday on charges of influence peddling and extortion.

His lawyer, Rafael Giraud, filed a medical report indicating that doctors are uncertain about a discharge date.

Chief Prosecutor Jorge Chavarría responded to the news by asking the court to order a physical evaluation by experts from the Judicial Investigation Police’s (OIJ) Forensics Department, as well as a full report of all medications Angulo is currently taking to assess whether they are associated with heart disease.

Justices of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala III, suspended the trial and ordered the OIJ to conduct an investigation within the next 48 hours.

The charges against Angulo are related to alleged activities that occurred while he was a member of the Regional Development Board of the Southern Region, which administrates a duty-free zone in the southern Pacific port of Golfito.

In 2011, the Legislative Assembly lifted Angulo’s immunity from prosecution in order to proceed with the investigation.

The trial will be conducted by five Sala III justices due to Angulo’s post as a lawmaker.

According to the investigation, Angulo allegedly solicited bribes from a company that was awarded a contract to build a school in the southern community of San Vito.

Eleven additional defendants also are on trial in the same case, which will include the testimony of 36 witnesses.

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