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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Former President Oscar Arias faces criminal charge over Crucitas case

Chief Prosecutor Emilia Navas has presented criminal charges against former President and Nobel Peace prize winner Oscar Arias for breach of duty.

The charge stems from a probe into whether Arias failed to uphold his presidential responsibilities by allowing a Canadian gold mine to operate in Costa Rica in the name of “the public interest” back in 2008.

The probe was originally dropped in 2014 by former Chief Prosecutor Jorge Chavarría, who was suspended last year for failing to uphold his duties in a corruption scandal, but Navas revived it last October when she took office.

Arias’ Environment and Energy Minister at the time, Roberto Dobles, was originally convicted and sentenced in the case, but that verdict was overturned by an appeals court that ordered a new trial, which began in last September.

Despite the 2008 decree that Arias signed, the Canadian gold mining company, Infinito Gold, did not open the mine because a Costa Rican court voided the authorization on environmental grounds.

Since then, the northern area of Las Crucitas, where the Canadian mine was supposed to operate, has been occasionally occupied by informal miners looking for gold.

They caused serious environmental damage through the use of mercury and by dumping debris into rivers before police removed the miners.

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