Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Freedom of Speech: Unholy Orders

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Freedom of Speech: Unholy Orders

Article excerpt

In a court case that has exposed corruption within the Catholic Church in Costa Rica, a panel of judges last month condemned three men to a total of 97 years imprisonment for the parts they played in events that led to the murder of a popular radio journalist.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Parmenio Medina Perez, a Colombian, was gunned down outside his home in 2001 after broadcasting a series of reports about alleged embezzlement at Radio Maria, run by Father Minor de Jesus Calvo Aguilar.

Calvo, alongside businessman Omar Chaves, had been accused of ordering Medina's killing. The priest, who had spent four years in prison on remand, was acquitted of participation in the murder but sentenced to 15 years for fraud. The judges ruled that he had been involved in swindling cash donated by Radio Maria listeners for good causes.

His business partner, Chaves, was found guilty of ordering the shooting and sentenced to 35 years, plus 12 years for fraud. Prosecutors said the partners planned Medina's assassination in a bid to silence him. In their verdict, the judges said that from 1999-2001 the radio station received nearly $3m ([pounds sterling]1.5m) in donations, most of which Calvo and Chaves used to pay for luxuries that included cruises to the Bahamas and Florida.

Medina had regularly mentioned the radio station and Calvo during his own daily show, La Patada ("The Kick"). Costa Rica's Catholic Church closed down Radio Maria a couple of months before the murder. …

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