Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Costa Rica president investigated for abuse of authority

San Jose (AFP) – The Costa Rica attorney general's office said Tuesday it has opened an investigation into President Oscar Arias and Environment Minister Roberto Dobles for abuse of authority over a gold mining exploitation they claim to be of "national interest."

"Yesterday (Monday), the national attorney general's office ordered an investigation into the President of the Republic Oscar Arias Sanchez and the Minister of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications, Roberto Dobles Mora, for possibly committing the crime of abuse of authority," a statement said.

The investigation centered on a decree signed by both ministers last Friday which said that the Crucitas gold mine project in the north of the country, by the Industrias Infinito company, was "of public and national interest," the statement said.

Environmental groups have slammed the decree which authorizes the company -a subsidiary of the Canadian company Vanessa Ventures Incorporation- to cut 262 hectares (647 acres) of forests, including protected species, in the region bordering Nicaragua.

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the immediate suspension of the government decree, following a citizen's appeal to protect the forests.

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