Carlos Alvarado and seven other government officials could go to jail for up to six years for the crime of prevarication if the Prosecutor’s Office (Ministerio Publico) manages to prove that a crime was committed by the creation of the Presidential Data Analysis Unit (UPAD) handling of private information.
Prison sentences are contemplated in the Criminal Code, establishing a minimum of two years in prison and a cap of six.
If the other crimes investigated for abuse of authority and violation of personal data are confirmed, in the worst-case scenario, the penalty would be up to ten years.
Prevarication is when someone tells a lie, especially in a sneaky way. … While the noun prevarication is mostly just a fancy way to say “lie,” it can also mean skirting around the truth, being vague about the truth, or even delaying giving someone an answer, especially to avoid telling them the whole truth.Vocabulary.com
In addition to Alvarado, the President’s men: Víctor Morales, Ministro de la Presidencia (Chief of Staff), Daniel Soto, Vice Minister of Planning, and Luis Salazar, legal advisor of the Presidency, are also under investigation.
The group is completed by the three data analysts who worked at the Casa Presidencial for a year and a half, without knowing their work.
Last Friday (February 28), the Attorney General and the Ministerio Publico conducted a historic raid on the Casa Presidencial and nine other locations, with the aim of collecting evidence, around the investigation carried out by the Data Unit, which handled information of a confidential nature of Costa Ricans.
Meanwhile, the president has denied the charges. His cellular phone and computer were also confiscated.
“Our commitment to providing information to competent bodies on the subject of the data team is absolute (…). The best public policy, freedom and respect for privacy are values of this Government and our country. Regarding the decree concerning the data analysis team, mistakes were made, so we have rectified it,” Alvarado said.
However, the Prosecutor’s office action may be late to find evidence.
Franggi Nicolás, legislator for the Parido Liberacion Nacional (PLN) said, “The public regrets this episode but, at the same time, reproaches with indignation the slowness of the Prosecutor’s Office. Mrs. Fiscala Emilia Navas, a little late in her search. A week after the disastrous decree of the Presidential Data Analysis Unit, you may not find anything anymore.”
Nueva Republica legislator, Ivonne Acuña, said on Twitter, “The raid by the Prosecutor’s Office at the Presidential House is late. What happened with UPAD, the decree and the violation of the privacy and privacy of the Ticos, was for this to have happened a week ago. I hope that the Prosecutor’s Office manages to punish those responsible.”
El allanamiento de la Fiscalía a Casa Presidencial llega tarde.
Lo que ocurrió con la UPAD, el decreto y la vulneración de la intimidad y privacidad de los ticos, era para que esto se hubiese dado hace una semana.
Espero que la Fiscalia logre que se sancione a los responsables. pic.twitter.com/srflQl2HpO
— Ivonne Acuña Cabrera (@AcunaCabrera) February 28, 2020
Despite, many have voiced confidence that the prosecution will act seriously to investigate the allegations raised.
One of those is Carolina Hidalgo, legislator for the Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC) and former president of the Legislative Assembly, who said, “Given the actions undertaken this (Friday) morning by the Office of the Prosecutor in Presidency, our fraction of the PAC expresses confidence that these efforts will help to clarify doubts about the work that has been done on data, which will give the citizens peace of mind. We reiterate our confidence in the strength of our democratic institutionality.”