Argentina: prison and ineligibility required against Cristina Kirchner

Argentina: prison and ineligibility required against Cristina Kirchner

Twelve years in prison, as well as life ineligibility, were requested on Monday in Buenos Aires in a corruption trial against Argentinian Vice-President Cristina Kirchner, a figure of the Peronist left, opening a mortgage on her political future, at a just over a year of general elections.

The former head of state (from 2007 to 2015) Cristina Kirchner, 69, was tried in this remote trial – and in her absence – for aggravated illicit association and fraudulent administration, a case of awarding public contracts in his stronghold in the province of Santa Cruz, in Patagonia (south), during his two presidential terms.

Vice-President and President of the Senate since 2019, she benefits at this stage from parliamentary immunity, which only the Supreme Court could lift if it were to confirm a possible conviction. Otherwise, she could run for the legislative and presidential elections at the end of 2023, even if she has so far not let her intentions filter.

After the requisitions will come at the beginning of September the defense pleadings, in this procedure opened in 2019, but which had been suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic. They should stretch over several months and the judgment should not be rendered until the end of 2022.

But, a sign of the impact of Cristina Kirchner, as popular on the left as she is divisive,

Spontaneous gatherings of several hundred opponents and supporters of the political leader took place Monday evening outside her home in Buenos Aires, producing stampedes and pushing a thick police cordon to use tear gas, noted the AFP.

– “Systematic irregularities” –

In his indictment, prosecutor Diego Luciani denounced “a genuine system of institutional corruption”, “probably the biggest corruption operation the country has ever known”.

The other representative of the public prosecutor’s office, Sergio Mola, spoke of “systematic irregularities in 51 tenders over 12 years”.

Sentences of two to twelve years in prison have been requested for the 12 co-defendants, including 12 years against a building contractor, Lorenzo Baez, already sentenced last year to 12 years in prison in a separate case of escape from capital to tax havens.

The prosecution estimated the losses caused to the State at 5.2 billion pesos (38 million dollars at official exchange).

On many occasions, Cristina Kirchner, who denies the charges, has denounced political persecution by justice, according to her, instrumentalized by the right-wing opposition. Opposition and government in Argentina regularly refer to each other the accusation of “judicial war” and instrumentalization of justice.

In a tweet late Monday, Ms Kirchner accused prosecutors of “building their prosecution on issues that were never raised” in the original indictment. She denounced a “media-judicial firing squad”, to which she said she would respond on the merits on Tuesday via social networks, after being denied the right to an additional deposition on Monday, “violation of the principles of defense”.

– The president to the rescue –

President Alberto Fernandez (center-left) in a statement condemned the “legal and media persecution against the vice-president”, and considered “that none of the acts charged (…) have been proven”.

Icon of the Peronist left, populist for her detractors, Ms. Kirchner has been implicated in recent years in a dozen separate proceedings, between bribes, money laundering, speculative damage caused to the State or obstruction of the justice. She benefited from dismissals, two more at the end of 2021, but five procedures remain in progress.

The likelihood of a conviction of Ms. Kirchner has given rise in recent days to calls for mobilization from politicians, Peronist movements, some promising “the mess” if the vice-president was touched. These calls could announce tense demonstrations, in addition to those which each week in Buenos Aires protest against the cost of living and inflation (71% over one year).

Last week, an emblematic, albeit controversial, figure, the co-founder of the movement of Mothers (of the disappeared) of Place de Mai, Hebe de Bonafini, called for a “popular uprising” to “prevent the vice-president from going to prison “.

At the same time, a petition signed by more than 500 mayors denounced a lawsuit aimed at “banning” Ms. Kirchner from politics in Argentina, where she remains a heavyweight on the left, and a key figure in view of the general elections of 2023.

Reference: www.guadeloupe.franceantilles.fr

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