"I have been obliged to fight, day in and day out, for a fair trial; and that should not be the case, for me or for anyone else. As we all know, delayed justice is no justice",says this article published by InsideCostaRica.com on 7 November, 2008.
Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, Former President of Costa Rica
More than four years ago, on October 15, 2004, I voluntarily came back to Costa Rica looking for a fair trial. I had just resigned as Secretary General of the Organization of American States against the advice of the Ambassadors of all but two nations that had expressed their support to my continuation as Secretary General. More than four years later a trial has not taken place.
It turned out that the Ambassadors to the OAS were right when they pointed out that the allegations against me had not been proved in any way and there were no juridical grounds to ask for my resignation, as then President Abel Pacheco, the Attorney General Dall´Anese and part of the media were doing. The fact was, and still is, that they were basically convicting me without trial and their only basis to do so was the word of a director of ICE -the public institution that had acquired from Alcatel a mobile telecommunications system via public bidding- declaring that he had my authorization to receive a bribe. Against sound advice I still resigned and came back, but almost 1,500 days later a fair trial has not taken place.
Before my return to Costa Rica, my lawyer handed to the Attorney General my letter with the details of my arrival and asking to be received in his office to present my deposition, just as he had publicly demanded. My lawyer was afterwards informed that I was going to be detained at the airport. I maintained my determination and arrived according to plans. That was more than four years ago and a trial has not taken place.
On October 15th of 2004 the International Airport serving San José was transformed into a stage for the largest reality show ever performed in Costa Rica. High-ranking officials of the Costa Rican Government and of the Attorney General´s office carefully prepared all the details to present me to the country and to the world as a criminal already convicted: the media was granted specially designed spots for the live broadcasting of my detention; I was taken from the airstrip handcuffed with my hands in the back to better show me off; my lawyer was not allowed into the airport; I was transported in a vehicle known as a perrera (dog-catcher van) that is used for dangerous criminals; sirens, motorcycles, helicopters announced and followed the mocking caravan. That was more than four years ago and a trial has not taken place. The Constitutional Court of Costa Rica has declared that my human rights were violated with those procedures.
For a year I was under arrest, five months isolated in a common prison cell. That started more than four years ago and a trial has not taken place.
It was only when thousands of Costa Ricans demanded the Supreme Court of Justice to put an end to this unjustifiable situation that the Office of the Attorney General presented charges. As of today an indictment has not been approved by the judge that has to rule in this matter.
If there was such an urgency to try me in 2004, why is it that four years later I have not been judged? The answer is obvious; there is no case against me.
All the Attorney General’s Office has been able to “accomplish” besides the gross violations of the rule of law, due process and my human rights; is to grant immunity to a director of ICE that has confessed several other crimes besides the one related to the purchase of the Alcatel telecommunications system.
More than four years after I came back to show my confidence in the fairness of my country’s judicial system, I have not received the fair trial every human being deserves. Such delay of justice is a gross violation of constitutional principles and of basic human rights. Would such a miscarriage of justice be accepted in a developed country? The fact of the matter is that I have been obliged to fight, day in and day out, for a fair trial; and that should not be the case, for me or for anyone else. As we all know, delayed justice is no justice.