The Contraloría General de la República Comptroller General’s office) on Thursday placed severe sanctions against PUSC legislator Walter Cespedes and the president of the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles (Incofer) – country’s railroad system, Miguel Carabaguiaz, for allegedly being responsible for the transfer of government property to public domain.[one_third]
On Friday night sanctions against Carabaguíaz were suspended by Administrative Court[/one_third]Sanctioned are also five former directors of the Agrarian Development Institute (IDA), currently, the Rural Development Institute (INDER), which approved the titling of wooded areas considered natural heritage of the state.
Carabaguíaz and Cespedes are banned from holding public office for the next six years. Former minister of Agriculture, Rodolfo Coto Pacheco, is banned for five years, while the other three, Efraín Alfaro Barrantes; Édgar Umaña González y Danilo Elizondo Cerdas, are each banned for three years.
The Contraloría investigation began in 2013 after hearings declared five transfers of “property lacking in aptitude for agriculture.” The properties were forested and therefore considered part of the country’s “patrimonio (heritage).” Property with this characteristic should not, ruled the Contraloría, be in the public domain.
All four of the accused filed appeals, but all were rejected Contraloría.
Carabaguiaz, who has been responsible to get the trains, albeit the commuter train in an around San José, was openly defiant, telling La Nacion, “We’re going to act; this case isn’t closed.” He said he had access to legal tools and would use them.
Fabian Volio, Carabaguíaz’s lawyer, argues that the decision of the Contraloría has no legal basis. Volio also said that Contraloría had raised the matter before the courts last year and that a dismissal was ordered.
“I’ve been an honest functionary and my work has been highly ethical,” complained Carabaguiaz, a person described in 2012 by La Nacion as “opinionated and stubborn, the man who revived the train” .
“This causes me great moral, ethical and professional damage. I have never had an iota of evil intent”, said Carabaguiaz.
Friday night the Juzgado Contencioso Administrativo suspended the sanction against Carabaguíaz.
Cespedes, also consulted by the newspaper, limited himself to say only that he had not been notified of the decision as yet. The Contraloría’s office noted that the case is subject to review by a penal court.
Officially, the government expressed “confidence” that the railroad president would “clarify the situation.”
For the Chinchilla Administration, it is yet another scandal just weeks ahead of the termination of the mandate. But the alleged offenses actually took place during Abel Pacheco (2002-2006) administration.
The government statement praised Carabaguiaz for his contribution has president of Incofer, the railroad, and his part in public transport improvement. Under his leadership, more interurban trains have been put into action, reducing much of the vehicle traffic through downtown San Jose.