UPDATE: Former president Laura Chinchilla loses civil, criminal case against businessman

(Photo courtesy of CRHoy.com)

(Photo courtesy of CRHoy.com)

July 21st, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) A three-judge panel acquitted businessman and prominent hotelier, Alberto Rodriguez Baldi on criminal defamation charges and threw out a civil case against the man brought by former President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla.

 

The ruling was handed down shortly after 9 a.m. this morning.

 

Chinchilla’s legal team had sought 60 days in jail and more than ¢100 million in compensation from Baldi.

 

In the unanimous ruling, judges said that citizens’ right to free expression must remain unfettered and public officials must tolerate broader discourse and criticism, adding that they hoped the case would set a precedent for similar cases in the future.

 

Chinchilla filed charges against Baldi in June 2013, just days after Baldi published a post on Facebook that stated that Chinchilla purchased land worth millions of dollars in Nicoya, Guanacaste.

 

Baldi, who is in the hotel business in La Fortuna de San Carlos, also stated that Chinchilla has business interests in wind energy.

 

The former president said that both accusations are untrue and denied any allegations of corruption or mismanagement of public funds on her part during her time in office.

 

 

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  • roberto

    9am. Not Guilty. The unanimous judgment of the court was in favor of Mr. Rodriguez Baldi.

  • expatin paradise

    This ruling flies in the face of the existing law. While it is good policy to create a different rule for public figures (not just politicians), that is not the law of Costa Rica. Some times I wonder why we have written laws here, since the courts don’t feel bound to apply them.

  • costarick

    In my opinion, this entire lawsuit was merely the ex-President lashing out at any criticism for being voted the worst President in Office in Latin America during her term and probably the worst President and Administration ever in the history of Costa Rica. It is probably better that she just go quietly.

  • mhogan

    Congrats Mr. Rodriguez Baldi. Guess I have to eat my words that he’d lose. Of course, she can still appeal. But it’s a darn good sign that people may have better opportunities to express opinions; however, doubt it would apply if the defendant was not a lawyer (and a Tico) and the plaintiff was not a politician. And yes, in Costa Rica, laws are enforced nilly willy … depending on whim or influence. That’s one thing that makes living here so frustrating. Expats get away with zilch but a Tico doing the same thing — different story. Then again, perhaps he had an ace up his sleeve — proof! Just for everyone out there who wants to be careless in words or speech, please don’t take this a carte blanche. It was probably a roll of the dice for the defendant … this time.

    • http://insidecostarica.com/ Timothy Williams

      As an interesting side note, Baldi now has the right to sue Chinchilla for the cost of his defense.

  • Ken Morris

    Wow. I’m surprised. I thought Chinchilla had a case, but a unanimous opinion against her–and fast?

    I think I therefore agree with both mhogan and expatin paradise. With expatin paradise, I have to wonder why they even have laws, since judges seem free to disregard them. With mhogan, though, I would conclude that YMMV. You or I (athough I’m not sure that national origin matters) may well not see the same verdict if we’re in a similar case. Precedent I understand means nothing in CR, so tomorrow a court could reach another decision.

    I can’t believe it, but I actually feel sorry for Chinchilla now. I’m not sure what I wanted out of this case, and probably didn’t want her to win, or at least win big bucks, but I’m not comfortable with her being humiliated like this. I think she was unjustly defamed, and just because she was a bad president, I believe she is entitled to her honor. The judges spit on her.

  • SarongGoddess

    So has anyone PROVEN that what all he “claimed” she did was truth??