Five year jail sentence for former President Calderon

A judge has sentenced Rafael Calderon, former president of Costa Rica, to five years in jail for corruption. Calderon is the first former head of state to be tried for corruption in the country.


AFP - A judge Monday sentenced former Costa Rican president Rafael Calderon, the first former head of state tried for corruption here, to five years in jail, likely shooting down his plans to seek reelection.

Calderon, leader of the opposition Social Christian Unity Party who was president from 1990-1994, maintains he is innocent, and had planned to stand for president again in the February 2010 election.

After an 11-month trial, Judge Alejandro Lopez McAdam sentenced Calderon to five years behind bars for embezzlement, but rejected the prosecutor's call for Calderon to be detained immediately pending his expected appeals.

The court also handed down jail terms to another seven people charged with taking kickbacks for the purchase of almost 40 million dollars in medical equipment by the state health care system from Finnish firm Instrumentarium Medko Medical.

Calderon and his co-accused also were ordered to pay the equivalent of almost 700,000 dollars in damages to the state, said another judge in the case, Franz Paniagua.

Prosecutors had sought 24 years in jail for the former president. Calderon spent five months in detention when the scandal broke out in 2004.

Both Calderon and the former health care director Eliseo Vargas were handed five-year terms for embezzlement.

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