Monday, March 31, 2008

Costa Rican minister resigns over FARC comments

 Former Security Minister Fernando Berrocal (Photo: La Nacion / FILE)SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) - Costa Rica's security minister has resigned after alleging earlier this month that unidentified local politicians could have ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Fernando Berrocal stepped down Sunday, a day before he was scheduled to testify before Congress about statements he made after some $500,000 in cash was found in a retired professor's home.

Lawmakers had bristled at Berrocal's assertion that computer files seized during a recent Colombian military raid on a FARC camp led police to the money and suggested ties between the guerrillas and Costa Rican contacts, including politicians. They were expected to press Berrocal for names during Monday's session.

Berrocal said President Oscar Arias did not pressure him to quit.

"We decided that the best way to ensure the subject wasn't politicized, and the only way for me not to appear [before Congress], was for me not to be minister," Berrocal was quoted as saying by the website of La Nacion newspaper.

Colombia has sought U.S. and international help to analyze the information in three laptops seized in the March 1 raid, which have yet to be authenticated.

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