President of the Supreme Court Announces Surprise Retirement

Four days after he was reprimanded by decision in relation to Chinese cement scandal, the President of the Supreme Court of Costa Rica, Carlos Chinchilla, in a surprise announcement Monday, tendered his resignation.

Carlos Chinchilla

Chinchilla, along with three other judges were reprimanded for a serious fault – dismissing a case against to legislators alleged to have collaborated with Juan Carlos Bolaños, the businessman at the center of the Chinese cement scandal.

The four judges, along with former prosecutor, Berenice Smith, were investigated following a report that they exonerated the now former legislators Otto Guevara and Víctor Morales Zapata, for alleged influence peddling charges related to Bolaños.

The decision last week to reprimand the judges did not sit well within the Poder Judicial (Judiciary) and other sectors, considering that Smith was suspended for two months.

This difference in the sanctions motivated a protest, on Friday, of some judicial officials, including that of Court of Appeals judge Rosaura Chinchilla, who called for the resignation of the reprimanded magistrates.

“Magistrates: this country has lost respect for the Judiciary. Costa Rica is ashamed of its magistracy. Please resign! You go home with a pension … we stay collecting the pieces,” she said.

Carlos Chinchilla, 55, who was elected magistrate since 2007 and was re-elected in 2014, occupied the Presidency of the Court since May 2017, replacing Zarela Villanueva.

During the little more than a year that he was in charge of the Court, he had to face a strike by officials not against the high command but in opposition to the pension reform. The most critical aspect of the movement was the suspension of delivery of corpses from the judicial morgue, which caused outrage at the national level.

With his departure, Carmenmaría Escoto will assume the Presidency temporarily.

Source (in Spanish): La Nacion

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