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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — An appeals court overturned a former president's conviction last year on corruption charges, ruling Friday that prosecutors waited too long to try the case.

Miguel Angel Rodriguez, who was president in 1998-2002, had been sentenced to five years in prison but wasn't jailed because of his appeal.

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.

After leaving the presidency, he became president of the Organization of American States in 2004, but the corruption scandal forced him to resign two weeks into his tenure.

Rodriguez told a radio station that Friday's ruling shows the case was "a political humbug staged by an attorney general who wanted to stand out and get noticed."

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