Former Costa Rica president José María Figueres Olsen maintained his innocence during a hearing Thursday at the Asamblea Legislativa, where lawmakers wanted to hear about his relationship with a telecom firm that has been involved in corruption.
The hearing was held by the Comisión Permanente Especial de Control de Ingreso y Gasto Público. Christia María Ocampo Baltodano, a lawmaker from Figueres’ own Partido Liberacion Nacional said that the commission members are not there as judges but rather to observe. She was one of the lawmakers who didn’t accuse Figueres or mock him.
The ex-president was being questioned because he was involved in the ICE-Alcatel scandal because he accepted $900,000 as a consultant for the telecom firm. Lawmaker Néstor Manrique Oviedo Guzmán from Partido Acción Ciudadana said he did nothing to earn the consultation fee.
Figueres had left the country for eight years after getting paid the $900,000.
His declaration on television also was open to the public. Besides media filling up the room and hallways, there was a small seating area specifically for the general public.
Figueres maintained that he did nothing to influence a decision by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad to award the Alcatel CyL firm a cell telephone contract. Figueres was involved with the firm while he lived in Europe. He is the son of José Figureres Ferrer, the founder of the modern Costa Rican state.
Figueres Olsen declined to appear at a legislative hearing seven years ago at the height of the Alcatel scandal. That was the case that resulted in the conviction of former president Miguel Ángel Rodriquez Echeverría and others. Rodriguez, despite his conviction, denies his guilt and has continued to appeal.