Security minister drawn into Rodrigo Arias case

José María Tijerino, the security minister, was drawn into the Rodrigo Arias Sánchez controversy Wednesday.

Emilia Navas, the former chief prosecutor for financial crimes and corruption, recalled receiving a telephone call from Tijerino over the plan to formally question Arias.

She was testifying before a legislative committee.

However, the woman said that Tijerino called her after the plan to question Arias, the brother of the former president, had been canceled.

Lawmakers already knew that the formal questioning, called an indagatoria, had been canceled by order of Lillian Gómez, who was fiscal general or chief prosecutor at the time. That was after Jorge Chaverría, the current fiscal general, called her and asked her to postpone the session until he could study the facts. That call was made after Chaverría had been appointed by supreme court magistrates but before he took office.

Lawmakers are studying the Arias adminsirtation handling of money provided by the Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica. The money was used to pay a long list of political operatives designated as advisors. The real purpose appeared to be to obtain compliance or at least silence from some for approval of the free trade treaty with the United States. Some of the individuals opposed the treaty.

The investigation continues under Chaverría, and lawmakers were delicate in their discussion of the case.

Tijerino was said to be interested in the case because Rodrigo Arias had thought the investigation had been shelved, lawmakers were told.

Others at the session Wednesday were Juan Carlos Cubillo Miranda and Cristian Fernández Mora, both prosecutors, who with Ms. Navas made the decision to continue with the investigation even though the questioning of Rodrigo Arias was put off. The events happened in October.

The case has wide political ramifications. Rodrigo Arias is a candidate for presidency in 2012.

In formal action Wednesday, the special committee studying the case voted to ask the Banco de Costa Rica to provide copies of all the checks involved in paying out the funds provided by the Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica.

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