Calderón Found Guilty In The Caja-Fischel Case
The three judges of the Tribunal Segundo Circuito Judicial de Goicoechea
Monday afternoon found former Costa Rican
president, Rafael Angel Calderón Fournier,
guilty of embezzlement in the Caja-Fischel
case and sentenced him to five years prison.
Six of the other seven accused were also
found guilty and sentenced to served between
two and five years each, only one being
found not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The former president of the Caja
Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS),
Eliseo Vargas, was sentenced to five years;
Walter Reiche Fischel, former president of
the Corporación Fischel, was sentenced to
four years; Gerardo Bolaños Alpízar, former
director of the CCSS, Juan Carlos Sánchez
and Marvin Barrantes, were each sentenced to
three years and six years; all for
Randall Vargas, former legal advisor to the
Corporación Fischel, was sentenced to two
years, for destroying documents related to
the Caja-Fischel case, while Olman Valverde,
Fischel's financial officer was absolved of
All the eight accused walked out of the
courtroom to await the written decision
phase of the process that is due on November
3, when the parties can then protest (a form
of appeal) the court's decision before it is
confirmed by the Sala de Casación, before
any of the seven can spend a day behind
The Tribunal de Goicoechea did not elect to
place any of the sentenced to preventive
detention, only prohibiting Calderón from
holding a public office, effectively
terminating his bid for re-election in 2010.
The former president could have still
continued his candidacy for the 2010
presidential elections, as the court ban
does not go into effect until it is
confirmed, which in this case could be a
year or more.
However, last night he announced his
resignation of leader of the PUSC party,
saying it would be immoral to ask the people
of Costa Rica for their vote while the legal
process still hangs over him.
Calderón, as well as the lawyers for the
others sentenced, all said that they would
be taking action against the court decision,
feeling it was not just and that the judges
overlooked important evidence that proves
"Today we lost the battle, but not the war",
Calderón told the waiting news cameras as he
left the courtroom.
For his part, the Fiscal General, Fraincisco
Dall'Annese, was not pleased either with the
sentence feeling it was too light. The
Fiscalía has asked between 20 and 24 years
prison for the accused. The Fiscal
General added that there may be an appeal on
their part once they have the written
decision to analyze.
Costa Rican president, Oscar Arias, refused
to comment on the court decision, saying
that in a democracy it is not his place to
comment on court decisions.
Monday's court session started on time at
By 2:35pm the faces of the accused showed
their surprise at the sentence that was just
read to them. The president of the court,
followed with and explanation of their
decision and how it was arrived at.
Rodríguez explained that
the sentenced had defrauded the public, that
even though it was beyond proof that the
medical equipment purchased with the loan
from the government of Finland was of
quality and not overpaid and of benefit to
people of Costa Rica and that the equipment
is being fully utilized in social security
hospitals, the accused took advantage of
their position by receiving a commission on
the deal that both the people of Costa Rica
and of Finland must pay.
The judge gave gratitude to the people of
Finland for providing the financing which,
though is not interest free, the interest on
the loan is well below normal for such
transactions, had a three year grace period
and a ten year repayment schedule.