Familiar face selected for vital anti-crime office

Jorge Alberto Chavarría Guzmán Photo: Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguirdad Pública photo

The Corte Suprema de Justicia reached into the ranks of its own retirees and selected Jorge Alberto Chavarría Guzmán to be the next fiscal general de la República or chief prosecutor of the nation.

The term is for four years.

The magistrates voted by paper ballot and 14 eventually selected Chavarría. Jeannette Arias, who now works in the Poder Judicial, received eight votes in the final of five rounds.

Chavarría, 57, will leave a vice minister’s job to take the position Oct. 15. He takes the office that was vacated by Francisco Dall’Anese, who took a United Nations post heading a crime commission in Guatemala. Chavarría will become the seventh fiscal general since the Ministerio Público was created in 1975.

The job of fiscal general is the single most important post in the nation’s effort to stem the advances of organized crime, unravel the narcotrafficking networks and prevent the growth of youth violence.

Chavarría was a judicial investigator before he became a prosecutor. He has a law degree.

From 1979 to 1982 he was head of the Judicial Investigating Organization office in the province of Limón.

From 1983 to 1990 he was a fiscal or prosecutor and said he worked with common crimes and also cases of corruption, money laundering and similar. From 1990 to 1995 he was head of the narcotrafficking unit and filled in for the then-fiscal general.

From 1999 to 2004 he was in charge of training fiscals, and from 2004 to 2005 he was in charge of relations between police and prosecutors.

In 2006 he served as acting fiscal general. He retired in May 2006 but went to work as vice minister of security in the Laura Chinchilla administration.

He has written books on fingerprints, investigation and prosecutorial procedures and wrote an article in 1993 on the marijuana market in Costa Rica.

After the balloting, President Chinchilla said that Chavarría is a Costa Rican known for his experiences in fighting organized crime and combating narcotrafficking. She also said that he initiated dialogue and coordination with the other branches of government.

He made presentations at a number of seminars and attended a number of training sessions as a student.

Chavarría is a contemporary with others in the security apparatus of the Chinchilla administration. José María Tijerino, the security minister, for example, also has served as fiscal general. That was from 1990 to 1995.

Ms. Arias was the favorite among expats who knew her, in part because she is fluent in English. She headed the Poder Judicial’s victims office when many North Americans lost large sums of money with the Villalobos Brothers, Savings Unlimited and other high-interest schemes in 2002.

Some said that they thought she would bring an unbiased presence to the office instead of business as usual.

Dall’Anese’s term was distinguished by his single mindedness. He also was the focus of complaints by his bodyguards about his late-night carousing. He was re-elected by the magistrates even in the face of these complaints.

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