The Fiscalía General (Prosecutor General’s Office) accused former President Óscar Arias Sánchez (1986-1990 and 2006-2010) of the alleged crime of malfeasance in the so-called ‘Crucitas’ case, a gold mine permitted during his second administration.
Authorities say Arias in 2008 signed a decree that cleared the way for the Crucitas gold mine by the Canadian company Infinito Gold Mining, in Cutris de San Carlos, as of national convenience, in spite of a moratorium on gold mining put in place by the government of his predecessor Abel Pacheco (2002-2006).
The accusation was formally made on Wednesday.
The mine never advanced beyond site clearing, but protected trees were cut. Later a Costa Rican court found that the permits for the mine were illegally granted and recommended an investigation of various officials, including Arias.
Arias, 77, was investigated last year (2017), where he insisted on his innocence.
The reactivation of the case was covered by a legal analysis ordered by the Attorney General Emilia Navas in order to deepen the search for new evidence that was not incorporated into the investigation file at the appropriate time.
Arias’ lawyer, Rodolfo Brenes Vargas, says the accusation is made in haste and without evidence.
“At the end of this process, the innocence of Mr. Óscar Arias Sánchez will be established, as we have been holding from the beginning. We consider that the accusation presented by the Public Prosecutor’s Office is hasty, lacking evidence, that violates elementary criminal law principles and that it does not know the role of a President of the Republic,” explained Brenes.
However, the Fiscalia argues that the former president is the missing piece to complete the sounded Crucitas case.
After years of judicial comings and goings, the criminal file opened in 2012, Navas on Tuesday signed the petition to continue with the case.
This crime is punishable by sentences ranging from 2 to 6 years in prison.