Video: The prosecutor’s office detains the mayor of Nicoya and raids eight municipal offices

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With his face covered and hands cuffed, the mayor of Nicoya, Marco Antonio Jiménez, was detained at the Municipality this Tuesday, June 13, at 10:30 am after a raid by the Integrity, Transparency, and Anti-corruption Prosecutor from Santa Cruz.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the investigation is centered on the alleged crimes of embezzlement, influence against public resources, illegally named employees, and fraud. Other charges could be forthcoming depending on how the investigation goes.

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Other departments were raided, including Procurement, Human Resources, Auditing, the Mayor’s Office, the Office of the Mayor’s Secretary, the Maritime-Terrestrial Zone Department, Legal, and Municipal Engineering.

The alleged illegal activities occurred between 2009 and 2017. The Prosecutor’s Office also raided the office of ex-mayor Gutiérrez Rosales, who is also suspected of embezzlement.

Read also: In 2016, the Prosecutor’s Office dismissed other charges against Jiménez

According to Karen Melissa Arrieta, president of the Municipal Council, council members did not know why the mayor is under investigation. Additionally, she said that they were alerted at 9 am by the Council’s secretary that the municipal offices were closed and that no employees could work.

“We still don’t know the details about what the investigation of the mayor is about,” said Arrieta.

Humberto Abadía, from the Municipality’s legal department, explained that he is not authorized to give information and he is only following the Prosecutor’s orders.

Read also: Neighbor accuses mayor of hiring relative for municipal jobs

Neither the mayor nor deputy mayor Adriana Rodriguez answered phone calls.

Two hours after the raid, the Municipality sent a statement via their press office that explained that many documents have already been turned over to the Prosecutor’s and the Comptroller General’s offices, and that they will not go into details about why this investigation is taking place.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Jiménez will appear before the Treasury Tribunal, at the Second Judicial Circuit in San José, this afternoon.

The Facts

According to the prosecutor’s office, these are the reasons the mayor was arrested today:

Civic festivals: When Jiménez was president of the Nicoya Civic Party Commission in 2009, he allegedly authorized a ruling in favor of Gutiérrez Rosales that awarded the then-mayor stalls at the festivals without due process, which affected municipal assets.

Maritime-Terrestrial Zone: According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the municipal functionary was a partner in a company that was given “priority” to place in concession 40 hectares of land in the maritime-terrestrial zone at Playa Barrigona de Sámara.

“Jiménez Muñoz had indicated to the company that this was a privileged process, which would give priority so that the matter would be resolved before any other requests, in spite of the fact that the functionary was a partner of said company,” says the statement.

Read also: Four municipal workers denounce the mayor of Nicoya for unfair labor practices

Nicoya Cemetery: the procurement department allegedly recommended that the Nicoya Council purchase a property that belonged to the uncle of the municipality’s legal advisor, Karen Mora Benavides, in order to build the new cemetery there.

Read also: Nicoya Muni buys ¢200 million property for cemetery

Allegedly, these irregularities were “orchestrated” by the mayor, the legal advisor, and a council member with the last names Vargas Zúñiga. Additionally, the property had three open judicial processes, was affected by the Forestry Law, and did not fulfill the guidelines stipulated by the General Rules for Cemeteries.