Friday, November 03, 2006

Investigative panel recommends taking Tinoco case to court

Photo by Alejandro Arley/ Al Dia NewspaperPanel also asks Tinoco to surrender immunity to face charges

Esteban Arrieta Arias
Translated by Uri Ridelman

(Al Dia) - The three-person committee picked by the legislative leadership to investigate the allegations of sexual harassment against Federico Tinoco finished its investigations recommending the accuser to take the case to the judicial courts and the lawmaker to drop his immunity to face the charges.

The panel members concluded that even though they didn't find any conclusive evidence against Tinoco there is a shroud of doubt about surrounding the acting of the lawmaker.

After two months of testimonies, evidence analisys and interviews the panel was not able to find anything that could prove that any acts of sexual harassment took place as the accuser had told.

The accusation took place after Tinoco and his assistant, a 37-year-old married lawyer, went together on an official trip to the province of Limon.

Witnesses and co-workers of the alleged victim testified that before that trip she never approached them to denounce any wrondoings by the lawmaker. Even then, the witnesses said, the complaints against Tinoco were over the amount of work that she had to do, and not about sexual harrassment.

Some of the witnesses even said that until that trip the relationship between the two had been one of friendship, trust and mutual empathy.

However, the panel also heard the case of another woman, who testified that her daughter had also been harassed by Tinoco and this, the panel said, creates a serious "shroud of doubt" over his behaviour.

After hearing the conclussions of the investigative panel Tinoco said that he was at peace and thanked all those who supported him and prayed for him.

About the suggestion of surrendering his immunity Tinoco said that he would think about it with his family and lawyer .

Pablo Zuniga, lawyer of the alleged victim said that the indictment against Tinoco will be presented over the next few days.

"We are satisfied with the recommendation of the panel because they encourage us to continue with this legal process," Zuniga said.

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