Rodriguez and other former government officials were charged with taking bribes in exchange for giving the Latin American branch of the French telecom company Alcatel a $149 million cellphone contract with the Costa Rican Electricity Institute while he was president in 2001. Seven others charged in the case were sentenced to between five and 20 years in prison.Rodriguez was only found guilty of instigating corruption. The judge absolved him on the charges of illegal enrichment because there was not enough evidence that Rodriguez personally benefited from the scandal. Even after the verdict, Rodriguez continued to maintain his innocence.
“We will appeal. We will defend ourselves,” Rodríguez said. “What happened today is just another step forward down the same road… I want any one of you to tell me one illegal thing I did to merit these charges.”
“How can I consider to be fair a sentence that does not explain what happened. I am not upset. I am in the middle of the process I voluntarily came in for. If we have to appeal, then we will appeal,” Rodriguez said as supporters applauded.
Perhaps Rodriguez can share a cell with his predecessor, Rafael Ángel Calderón Fournier. Calderón is also serving five years in jail on corruption charges.
Meanwhile, in Guatemala, Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz is expecting a guilty verdict and ten years in jail for former President Alfonso Portillo.