San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Corruption trial postponed as investigators confirm lawmaker's heart condition

Justice Magda Pereira of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala III, on Thursday afternoon confirmed that National Liberation Party lawmaker Jorge Angulo is too sick for trial.

Angulo faces charges of influence peddling and extortion, and criminal hearings were scheduled to begin on Monday. But the legislator was hospitalized over the weekend with heart problems.

Ordered by a judge to investigate Angulo’s illness, the Judicial Investigation Police determined that he would need at least three weeks to recover from a “myocardial bridge,” a malformed artery that causes severe chest pains.

Angulo, 59, is diabetic, and has hypertension, high cholesterol and triglycerides, and a family history of heart disease.

Angulo’s doctor, Walter Marín, said the legislator is being treated for acute coronary syndrome, and could undergo a coronary angiography in coming days. Marín also recommended at least two weeks of complete rest.

Costa Rica’s Chief Prosecutor Jorge Chavarría told local media that the medical investigation aimed “to dispel any doubts that may exist in the case.” He said prosecutors would respect Angulo’s diagnosis and postpone the trial.

If Angulo’s health problems prevent him from continuing to serve as a lawmaker, or if his recovery extends beyond his April term limit, the case would move from the Sala III to a lower criminal court, officials said.

The charges against Angulo involve 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.

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