San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
The Cuban

Costa Rica court suspends fraud trial against Luis 'The Cuban' Milanés, citing defendant's weak heart

A fraud trial in Costa Rica against 63-year-old Cuban-American businessman Luis Angel Milanés Tamayo was suspended Monday morning following a request by a defense attorney who said his client suffers health problems.

A criminal court in San José granted attorney Hugo Navas’ request based on medical reports stating that Milanés’ heart condition prevented him from attending the trial. Milanés was scheduled to attend court at 8 a.m., but he arrived with his lawyer at about 10 a.m. to file the request.

Milanés, aka “The Cuban,” is facing a fraud trial for the sudden closure in 2002 of his “investment” company, Savings Unlimited. That same year he fled Costa Rica after a group of about 500 victims – mostly U.S. and Costa Rican citizens – denounced him for allegedly making off with $46 million of their money. After six years on the run, Milanés was arrested on June 19, 2008 at an airport in El Salvador, where local police nabbed him with someone else’s Costa Rican passport.

In May 2011, he reached an agreement with plaintiffs and pledged to begin paying them by using nine properties with an estimated value of $12 million. He also promised to give them $1.8 million in cash by November 2012.

A criminal court last September ordered Milanés to be brought to trial and prosecuted after he failed to pay back more than half a million dollars of that settlement.

Last November the owners of a San José business group that included Milanés closed a hotel and two casinos and laid off 250 employees. Attorney Hugo Navas, also the group’s attorney, at the time said the closure was due to high operating costs.

Milanés was ordered to undergo health evaluations by Judicial Police forensic experts on Monday afternoon in order to reschedule his appearance in court.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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