Costa Rican judge lifts house arrest against former president, OAS chief

A judge late Thursday freed Former Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodriguez, who resigned as head of the Organization of American States to face corruption charges in his homeland.

The ruling lifted house arrest against Rodriguez, whose term ran from 1998 until 2002, and will allow him to leave the apartment where he had been confined as early as Friday, said one of his lawyers, Eduardo Araya.

The 65-year-old left the OAS in October 2004, after less than a month on the job, and came here to face charges he violated laws by taking a commission on a contract with the French telecommunications company Alcatel during his four-year term, which ended in 2002.

He was taken to a prison cell, but then transferred to a modest apartment here in the nation's capital. He was later allowed to return to his home in an exclusive corner of western San Jose.

Prosecutors are preparing the case against him, but he has yet to be formally charged. They had asked for his house arrest to be extended.

While granting him freedom, Thursday's ruling restricts Rodriguez's movements and forbids him from leaving the country, AP reported. V.A.

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