High court but not lawmakers launches probe of Chavarría

The Corte Suprema de Justicia decided Monday to launch an investigation of Jorge Chavarría Guzmán, the nation’s chief prosecutor.

The key issue is did Chavarría quash an interrogation of Rodrigo Arias Sánchez, the former minister of the Presidencia.

However, the legislature failed to launch its own investigation Monday when a vote to do so fell short with only 31 of the 38 required votes. Opposition party members were not able to convince lawmakers from the Partido Liberación Nacional that the Arias allegations should be aired there.

The larger issue is the management by Arias of money that came from the Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica during the early years of his brother’s presidency.

Liberación Party members noted that the Procuraduría General y la Contraloría General de la República said at the time that the money was not public. The Arias
administration used the money to hire a number of consultants. Others suggest that Arias and his brother were buying off those who opposed the Central American Free Trade Treaty that had not yet been approved. The money was spent as if it were private and not within the scope of the national budget.

The investigation of Rodrigo Arias had been going on for two years, but it was in October when prosecutors called him to make a formal appearance and answer their questions on the record.

Meanwhile, Chavarría has launched his own investigation to find out who in the Poder Judicial provided an e-mail on the case to La Nación. That newspaper reported Friday that the acting chief prosecutor at the time said that Chavarría, who had been selected but not sworn in formally, wanted to review the case against Arias before there was an interrogation. That person, identified as Lilliam Gómez, contacted the prosecutors in the case and told them to cancel the appearance, according to the newspaper. Rodrigo Arias is a possible presidential candidate in three years. Also involved in the complex scenario is José Maria Tijerino Pacheco, the security minister.

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