A local prosecutor and a judicial agent are facing a criminal charge because they launched an investigation of a prominent legislator.
That was announced Tuesday by the office of the chief prosecutor or fiscal general. He is Jorge Chavarría Guzmán.
The lawmaker who was the target of the investigation is Karla Prendas Matarrita, who is one of the 57 elected legislative deputies.
She is a member of the Partido Liberación Nacional.
The fiscal general said in a prepared statement that the lawmaker enjoys immunity and that a directive he issued a year ago requires local prosecutors to submit to him any cases against individuals having immunity. That was just as newly elected members of the legislature and the central government were taking office.
In addition to lawmakers, ministers and the president enjoy immunity, according to the Costa Rican Constitution.
Having immunity does not mean a criminal case will not proceed. There is a provision for the legislature, the president or the courts to lift immunity to allow prosecution. But the last time that happened, the process took so long that the lawmaker left office, and the case was remitted to the local courts.
The fiscal general said that the investigation against the lawmakers was on an allegation of embezzlement. It was the lawmaker herself who complained to Celso Gamboa Sánchez., the deputy fiscal general. The prosecutor and the judicial agent sought by letter confirmation from the Concejo Municipal of the central canton of Puntarenas of the lawmaker’s service as a regidora or council member, said the statement from the fiscal general.
The case of the two judicial workers will be handled by the Fiscalía Adjunta de Probidad, Transparencia y Anticorrupción, said the statement. The allegation against them is what amounts to a misdemeanor punishable by a fine. Specifically, the allegation is not following the rules.
Immunity is provided highly placed officials to protect them from harassment by multiple legal actions. In the United States members of Congress have a form of immunity that forbids their arrest while they are headed to a session.
The fiscal general’s statement said that his action did not mean that the investigations against the lawmaker would not continue.