Thursday 29 September 2022

Big Money Offered To Off Ziad Akl, Court Told

The Lebanese-Canadian national faces up to 35 years in prison for his crimes in Costa Rica

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29 September 2022 - At The Banks - BCCR

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A “large sum of money” was offered at La Reforma prison in Alajuela to poison Ziad Akl, the Lebanese-Canadian on trial for a series of extortions between 2016 and 2017.

Ziad Akl with his defence lawyer, Alejandra Araya, during trial this week in the Pavas Criminal Court. Due to his background, Akl was under heavy escort. Photo Diario Extra

The threat was reported by an official of the Centro de Atención Institucional (CAI), Jorge Arturo Montero, to the director of the Centro Nacional de Atención Específica, Maribel Mora, on September 14, 2018.

“Confidential information has been received … I am told that a large sum of money is being offered to cause some kind of injury with some type of substance (poison) that can cause injury and its effect until death,” the document said.

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The poisoning attempt would have been to take advantage of Akl’s special diet due to his

Photo Diario Extra

religious restrictions. However, in the face of the threat, prison authorities suspended the special meals.

 

Akl denounced the threat during his trial on Wednesday, assuring the court that he has even found stones in his food and required stomach cleansings. He added that food brought to him by visitors is thrown away by prison officials.

“My partner brought me a pizza and an officer grabbed it and threw it away. He (the guard) said they had a new regulation but this was not the case,” said Akl.

Ziad Akl also asked the judges for a fair trial, saying that since his jailing for the past 18 months he has received unequal treatment, pointing to the five prison officials in court who he said they see him as a monster when in fact he has been respectful of the process.

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The prosecution has asked for 35 years in prison for Akl. But his lawyer, Alejandra Araya, asked the court to closely analyze the evidence and impose the maximum of 6 years, for two counts of extortion.

More: Akl Trial Winding Down

On trial with Ziad Akl are also Jean Carlo Fernández Jiménez and Kelvin Augustus Pinnoch Campbell.

Ziad Akl was arrested at the San Jose airport trying to leave the country

The court panel made of three judges, Álvaro Abarca Picado, José Pablo Alvarado Cascante and Mauricio Jiménez Vargas,  is expected to pronounce judgment on Friday.

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Ziad Akl was arrested in May 2017 at the Juan Santamaria airport trying to leave the country in the afternoon, on the same day when his brother, Elias Akl, a well-known loanshark and leader of a criminal organization in the western sector of San José, was gunned down in Escazu..

During the pre-trial investigation, the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) learned that Ziad Akl was involved in his brother’s business, mainly in high-interest loans to taxi drivers and threats if they did not pay.

Originally Ziad Akl had been sentenced to 23 years imprisonment in an abbreviated process (fast-track trial),  but the Pavas Criminal Court did not accept the sentence and ordered Akl to full trial.

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