New trial in Las Olas case begins in January, lawyer says

A new criminal trial in the case of the U.S. developer of the Las Olas condominium project in Esterillos Oeste will begin the second week of January.

That was the report Wednesday from Nestor Morera, the Heredia lawyer representing David Richard Aven of New Castle, Pennsylvania, the developer.

Morera said the Sept. 6 start of the trial was postponed that day because he was ill. Then the trial was postponed a second time in the second week of that month because the judge became ill, he added. A news story Friday reported incorrectly that the delay was because Aven had been ill, said the lawyer.

New York lawyers for Aven have threatened to take Costa Rica to arbitration under the free trade treaty with the United States.

The project is Condominio Horizontal Residencial Las Olas, and a warning letter sent by New York lawyers to the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior Sept. 17 alleges official corruption, perjury, inaction by criminal investigators, misstatements and inequitable treatment in a criminal court case. The project is official Condominio Horizontal Residencial Las Olas.

The criminal trial has been plagued with illness.

The New York lawyers claim that the prosecutor engineered a delay when it appeared he would lose the case. Then a judge, whom Morera identified as Rafael Solís Gullock, became sick and the trial has to be repeated. The New York lawyers consider this double jeopardy. Costa Rica law provides for a new trial if there is a delay of 10 working days for a reason like the illness of the judge. That took place in December 2012 and January this year, said Morera.

The law firm threatening arbitration is King & Spalding LLP of New York City. The Costa Rican lawyer, Morera of the Bufete Morera & Morera, noted in a telephone call Wednesday that both abortive trials represent significant expense to the developer, who was present.

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