Nicoya Mayor Rejoins City Hall After Year-and-a-Half Suspension

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Goicoechea courts rejected a motion to extend the suspension of Nicoya Mayor Marco Antonio Jiménez Muñoz. He came back to his job today, March 20th, after a year-and-a-half away, according to his lawyer José Miguel Villalobos and the Santa Cruz anti-corruption prosecutor’s office.

Jiménez is accused of 21 crimes ranging from sexual abuse of adults to corruption.

In a hearing held today from 1-3 p.m., the judge ruled to extend only one of the measures against the mayor that prevents him from bothering victims or witnesses and granted him the possibility of returning to his post.

According to prosecutor Luis Martínez, the judge said that the suspension from his post should become a sentence.

Jiménez’s lawyer said that the judge accepted their argument that the mayor can continue to perform his job while “not communicating” with victims.

“The defense was very clear and the judge also in that not getting close doesn’t mean not passing alongside them. What he can’t do is bother them or try to change their versions,” Villalobos said.

“The judge also accepted that, since three of the witnesses are from the city legal department, the deputy mayor can communicate with them and that there is no danger for the victim or the witnesses if he returns to city hall,” he added.

The prosecutor’s office appealed the judge’s ruling and “considers that the accused must continue to be suspended from his role at Nicoya City Hall in order to guarantee the proper proceedings of the criminal process,” they said in a statement.

Preliminary hearings were supposed to continue today to determine whether or not there will be a trial for the mayor, but the court rescheduled it for next year from April 13-14, 2020. Jiménez’s term as mayor ends in May 2020.