Page last updated at 21:47 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 22:47 UK

Jail term for ex-Costa Rican head

Rafael Calderon (photo from 1992)
Rafael Calderon led Costa Rica for four years in the 1990s

Former Costa Rican President Rafael Angel Calderon has been sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of corruption.

He is the first former head of state to be tried for corruption in Costa Rica, the AFP news agency reports.

He was arrested in October 2004 after being accused of taking an illegal commission during a government purchase of medical equipment from Finland.

Calderon, who denied the charges, led Costa Rica from 1990 to 1994.

The sentence is likely to deal a major blow to his plans to stand for president again in elections in February next year.

Judge Alejandro Lopez McAdam rejected calls by the prosecution to send Calderon to prison immediately pending his expected appeals, AFP reports.

He and seven other people also convicted in the case were ordered to pay damages of almost $700,000 (£439,000) to the state, AFP quotes another judge in the case as saying.

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Ex-Costa Rica leader held in jail
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