QCOSTARICA – Almost fourteen days after their arrest, the owners of MECO and H Solís, Carlos Cerdas Araya and Mélida Solís Vargas, got their day in court in the “caso cochinilla” and ordered by a judge to post bond for their conditional release.
Saturday afternoon, around 1:30 pm, judge Carolina Lizano ordered Cerdas to post US$5 million dollars and Solís US$3 million dollars, among other measures such as not leave the country, surrender their passports and not be within 1 kilometer of the international airports and the Conavi.
Both are accused of alleged bribes in exchange for benefits in road works contracts run by the State.
Solís, however, was transferred to the Vilma Curling prison for women, also known as the Buen Pastor. Her lawyer Fernando Campos (spouse of outgoing Attorney General Emilia Navas) said his client will be able to leave the prison on posting bail and complying with the following precautionary measures for four months, not leaving the country and surrendering her passport.
This Monday morning, Cerdas continues in the OIJ jail, to which his lawyer, Erick Ramos, is confident their present the court with proof of deposit today, for the conditional release of his client.
His lawyer said of his client is barred from leaving the country, must surrender his passports, not approach witnesses, not approach Conavi and not approach airports.”
At nightfall Saturday, the MECO company issued a statement in which it indicated that it “reiterates its confidence in the country’s legal system, according to which people are innocent until proven otherwise. Constructora MECO has a solid and committed management team that remains in charge of the projects, and since this process began, it has been making the necessary decisions for the continuity of the company and its operations”.
Meanwhile, the other 28 others involved in the case, one by one, made their way home over the weekend, some with precautionary measures, at least 2 without conditions. The prosecution had requested preventive detention (remand) for 11 of them but was denied by the court.
“All the other people were released. Some, yes, with more serious measures, such as officials of the Conavi (National Highway Council), who were imposed house arrest and temporary removal from office,” said Érick Gatgens, one of the more than two dozen defense lawyers.
Sunday afternoon, the Fiscalia (Prosecutor’s Office) indicated it will appeal bond for owners of MECO and H Solís and insists on setting them preventive detention.
The Fiscalia has requested one year of preventive detention for all the accused, including Cerdas and Solis, which was denied by the court