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Costa Rica prosecutors seek lifting of president’s immunity

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA (AP) – Costa Rica’s top prosecutor filed papers on Thursday seeking to lift President Carlos Alvarado’s immunity so he can face charges related to his office’s collection of personal information on citizens.

Interim Attorney General Warner Molina petitioned the Supreme Court to start the process. Two-thirds of the country’s lawmakers would then have to agree for Alvarado to lose his immunity.

Prosecutors allege Alvarado abused his authority by creating the Presidential Unit of Data Analysis with the supposed goals of using personal data to better tailor public policy. But the unit allegedly sought restricted information from various government agencies, such as personal income and medical records.

Alvarado created the unit by decree, but prosecutors said it was unregulated and a special law would be needed to request such information.

Authorities raided presidential offices in February 2020 and the congress formed a special committee to investigate. The attorney general’s investigation continues, but the office cannot prosecute Alvarado unless his immunity is lifted. A federal lawmaker who previously worked in Alvarado’s office is also a target of the investigation.

Alvarado’s office did not immediately comment, but his lawyers told local media outlets that they considered the move “hasty”.