He said it all along. “I am innocent”. Despite his assertions to his innocence, former president Miguel Angel Rodriguez (1998-2002), was found guilty on corruption charges and sentenced to fives years prison.
He never gave up. He kept on fighting to prove his innocence.
On Friday, while the rest of the world was looking to the heavens, the former president was tuned to the appeals court in Costa Rica, that exonerated him of his conviction last year.
Miguel Angel Rodriguez had never been imprisoned because of his appeal. He did spend a few months in La Reforma prison in preventive detention before being ordered to house, on his return to Costa Rica after stepping down as president of the Organization of American States (OAS).
Rodriguez and other former government officials were charged with taking bribes in exchange for giving the Latin American branch of the French telecom company Alcatel a US$149 million cellphone contract while he was president in 2001.
Rodriguez said on Friday about the entire case, in his words, “a political humbug staged by an attorney general who wanted to stand out.”
Editor’s note: As editor of Inside Costa Rica I covered the Rodriguez case from the moment he stepped off the flight returning to Costa Rica and was sped off in a “perrera” (paddy wagon) to the Costa Rica courts in San José. I met the former president occasionally, though we never spoke about his trial and exchanged several emails. The last time I saw him was in 2010 at the inauguration ceremony of Laura Chinchilla. He was an outcast. He and his wife stood alone in the crowd after the ceremony. I was perhaps the only one to shake his hand that day.