Sunday, February 04, 2007

Costa Rican prosecutors present charges in Alcatel case

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) - Prosecutors in Costa Rica presented their first criminal charges after three years of probing alleged bribery involving the Latin American arm of French telecommunications company Alcatel-Lucent, an official said.

Fabian Barrantes, a spokesman for prosecutors, confirmed charges were filed Thursday against Hernan Bravo Trejos, a former executive of Costa Rica's state-run telecom company, known as ICE, but said the law prevented him from confirming specifics of the charge sheet.

The Costa Rican newspaper Al Dia reported that Bravo Trejos was charged with corruption for allegedly accepting a payment of $1.05 million in exchange for his support for an Alcatel bid on a cellular telephone contract in 2001.

The scandal has mired former top officials, including former President Miguel Angel Rodriguez (pictured), who served from 1998-2002 and later resigned as head of the Organization of American States in 2004 to face corruption charges in his homeland.

Al Dia said that one of the witnesses who will be called in the case against Bravo Trejos is another former ICE executive, who has accused Rodriguez of demanding a cut of another $2.5 million bribe.

Rodriguez's lawyer, Eduardo Araya, told Radio Monumental on Thursday that he expects charges to be filed against his client "at any moment."

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