Appeals court exonerates ex-Costa Rican president sentenced to 5 years on corruption charges

An appeals court in Costa Rica has exonerated a former president convicted last year on corruption charges and sentenced to five years in prison.

Miguel Angel Rodriguez had never been imprisoned because of his appeal. He was Costa Rican president in 1998-2002 and then became president of the Organization of American States in 2004 but the corruption case forced him to resign.

Rodriguez and other former government officials were charged with taking bribes in exchange for giving the Latin American branch of the French telecom company Alcatel a $149 million cellphone contract while he was president in 2001.

Rodriguez told a radio station that Friday's ruling by the appeals court shows the case was, in his words, "a political humbug staged by an attorney general who wanted to stand out."