Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Costa Rican politicians alarmed by possible link to Colombian rebels

Fernando Berrocal (Photo by La Nacion newspaper)San Jose, Costa Rica (AP) - Allegations that Colombian guerrillas had ties to Costa Rican politicians and stashed hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Central American country have alarmed lawmakers who on Monday demanded more details.

A computer confiscated during a March 1 raid by Colombia's army on a jungle camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia contained files that suggested there were ties between the leftist guerrilla group and Costa Rican contacts, including politicians, Security Minister Fernando Berrocal said Saturday.

"On this computer there's more , I'm not going to tell you now but the country will soon find out," Berrocal said.

The computer also contained information that led to the seizure Friday of almost $500,000 that allegedly belonged to the FARC from a Costa Rican professor's home in the city of Heredia, north of the capital.

In a radio interview on Monday, former presidential candidate for the governing National Liberation Party, Rolando Araya, demanded more details.
"It would be good if he'd tell us and bring to the public light who these politicians are who are linked to the FARC," Araya said.

Rafael Madrigal, a legislator with the opposition Citizens Action Party, made a similar request in a letter to Berrocal.

The raided house belongs to a retired university professor, Francisco Gutierrez, who was out of the country at the time of the seizure. He returned to Costa Rica on Sunday, but said through his wife that he would only speak to reporters after talking to authorities.

Gutierrez, originally from Spain but now a naturalized Costa Rican, has an unusual middle name -Eleuterio- that matches the information Colombian National Police chief Oscar Naranjo said he had on the supposed FARC contact.

Naranjo said the contact was "a person linked to the Communist Party of Costa Rica, an older person, a person who really has a lot of years in the Central American left."

Attorney General Francisco Dall'Anese on Monday said no charges were pending against Gutierrez in Costa Rica, adding that police had searched his home at the request of the Colombians.

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