British expat’s appeal delayed by recording problems in court

An appeal hearing involving the trial court dismissal of a criminal allegation against a British citizen experienced an unexpected delay Friday when recording equipment failed to work.

This is the case of Sheldon Haseltine and his lawyer, Horacio Mejias Portuguez. They were accused of forgery involving documents submitted in another case. The expat has been struggling to hang on to the five tracts near the Los Sueños development for the past 16 years.

Haseltine reported that the lawyer Otto Giovanni Ceciliano Mora, the former Barva mayoral candidate, was present at the hearing in Puntarenas. The Judicial Investigating Organization detained Ceciliano Dec. 20 in a wave of arrests relating to marijuana smuggling and money laundering. He missed the initial hearing Jan. 10 because he was in preventative detention.

Ceciliano works for the two persons who raised the forgery allegation. They are Armando González Fonseca, a well-known Costa Rican businessman, and Martha Sandoval, who lives on one of Haseltine’s properties.
Haseltine said that the date for the continued hearing is Feb. 2.

He added that Ceciliano made the unusual request that he be allowed to prosecute the case privately as well as to be a witness. Both requests were denied at the initial hearing.

A prosecutor, Dixiela Madrigal Mora, and the initial judge in the case, Yorleni Campos Campos, have said there is no substance to the allegation. The prosecutor conducted her own investigation of the allegation. The specific allegation in the case was that a document that simplified the management of Haseltine’s corporation, Ivanhoe Investment S.A., was fake.

The corporation is registered in Panamá, but administered in The Bahamas. The document required and got the seal of the Costa Rican consulate in The Bahamas.

Haseltine needed the document so he could respond rapidly to a civil case involving ownership of the tract near Los Sueños.

If the document were forged, he would lose that case as well for not having responded correctly to the civil allegations. That is the motivation of Ceciliano, González and Ms. Sandoval for pressing the criminal case.

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