After five months of proceedings, the trial of nine people alleged to have participated in the 2001 murder of radio journalist Parmenio Medina is just beginning.
According to the daily La Nación, as of last week fewer than two-dozen witnesses of the 280 scheduled to testify had done so, and disputes between prosecutors and defense attorneys have slowed the trial. The proceedings also have been delayed because of problems in transferring the nine defendants from the various prisons where they are being held, and because the two prosecutors and numerous defense lawyers each get a chance to question every witness.
The principal defendants, accused of sponsoring and planning the murder, are Catholic priest Mínor Calvo and businessman Omar Cháves.
Medina, a Colombian-born Costa Rican journalist, produced a series of investigative reports on the now-defunct, but then-widely popular, Catholic radio station Radio Maria exposing a series of financial irregularities (TT, Jan. 9, 2004).Medina received repeated death threats as a result of his reports, and was shot three times in the head and torso at point blank as he arrived home July 7, 2001 (July 13, 2001).
Calvo founded and ran Radio Maria, while Chaves bankrolled it. Both face charges of homicide and coercion.
The alleged triggerman, Luis Alberto Aguirre, will also be tried for homicide and coercion. Aguirre, a Nicaraguan known as “El Indio,” told The Tico Times from his cell in 2004 that he confessed to the murder, and claimed Chaves and Calvo are innocent (TT, April 16, 2004).