April 28, 2011 / 1:29 AM / 8 years ago

Ex-Costa Rican president jailed for five years

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, April 27 (Reuters) - Former Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodriguez was sentenced on Wednesday to five years prison in a bribery scandal at the state telecommunications company.

Rodriguez, 71, who governed Costa Rica between 1998 and 2002, was found guilty of receiving $500,000 of a total $14 million paid by French telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel ALUA.PA to Costa Rican officials, prosecutor Criss Gonzalez said.

Rodriguez has maintained his innocence throughout the trial and said he would appeal his conviction.

Several former executives of the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute, which provides telephone service in the Central American nation, have already been convicted of receiving bribes.

Alcatel agreed late last year to pay more than $137 million to settle accusations it violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in making payments to government officials in Costa Rica, Honduras, Taiwan and Malaysia.

Jose Antonio Lobo, a former Rodriguez aide, testified he received $2 million from Alcatel and that he passed on $500,000 to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez admitted accepting the money from Lobo but said the payment occurred after he left office and that it was part of his fund-raising efforts for his campaign to become secretary-general of the Organization of American States.

Rodriguez resigned after holding the top job at the OAS for only a month in 2004 when the bribery accusations came to light. (Reporting by Alex Leff; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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