The Criminal Court of the Treasury announced Thursday night that it has dismissed charges against former Costa Rican president Óscar Arias for his involvement in approving the construction of the Crucitas gold mine.
A judge declared that the statute of limitations for bringing Arias to trial has passed.
Roberto Dobles — who served as Environment Minister under Arias’s administration — and six other officials will be tried in court, Semanario Universidad reported.
The Chief Prosecutor’s Office said Friday afternoon that it will appeal the dismissal of the charges against Arias. It argued that there are factors that should have extended the statute of limitations for an additional six years from 2017.
If the appeal fails, the case will remain closed and Arias will not be brought to trial.
“The defense is pleased with this decision, though it regrets that the Public Ministry has spent time and resources to reopen a penal cause that had expired and where clearly there is no crime,” Arias’s lawyer, Rodolfo Brenes, told reporters following Thursday’s ruling.
Chief Prosecutor Emilia Navas had presented criminal charges against Arias in August 2018 for breach of duty, reopening a probe into whether the then-president failed to uphold his responsibilities by signing a 2008 decree allowing Canadian company Infinito Gold to construct an open-pit gold mine in Costa Rica’s northern region.
Arias’s decree deemed the mine “in the public interest” despite a 2002 court ruling that had established a moratorium on open pit mining. Costa Rican courts in 2010 voided Infinito Gold’s authorization due to environmental concerns.
Since then, the region has been harmed by illegal gold miners eager to cash in on the area’s massive quantities of the precious metal.
Arias in February has been accused of sexual assault by several women, two of whom have filed criminal complaints against the politician. Arias has “categorically” denied allegations of sexual assault, saying he has “never acted in a way that disrespected the will of any woman.”
Katherine Stanley, Managing Editor of The Tico Times, worked in the Office of the President during Oscar Arias’ second presidency and provided English-language speechwriting services for Arias. She has recused herself from all reporting and editorial decisions for any story involving Arias, including this one.
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