Former Supreme Court justice Eugenio Raúl Zaffaroni doubled down this week on controversial comments about the future of the ruling Cambiemos (Let’s Change) coalition led by President Mauricio Macri, after government ministers called for him to be sacked from his current post on the prestigious Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR).
Speaking to Futurock radio on Wednesday, Zaffaroni dismissed calls for his resignation, saying: “Because I criticise the government, I have to resign? Where are we? Venezuela? What is the crime?”
Zaffaroni, who has long been criticised for his close connections with the former Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner administration, sparked controversy last month when he said: “I would hope the government left office as soon as possible.”
The government and its allies pounced on the comments, claiming the judge had all but called for a coup d’état. Ministers called on him to resign from his seat on the IACHR. Zaffaroni “has expressed an anti-democratic vision that Argentines long left in the past,” Justice Minister Germán Garavano told Clarín. “He should not continue on the Inter-American Court [of Human Rights].”
For her part, Security Minister Patricia Bullrich accused the ex-justice of “coup-mongering.” Even members of the human rights fraternity were critical of the IACHR justice. José Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director of Human Rights Watch, said that Zaffaroni had dented the credibility of his regional court with his statements desiring the premature end of a democratic mandate.
In another interview this week, Zaffaroni repeated his claim that the Macri administration’s depature from government would improve the country’s situation.
“If they leave [office] early, then we can resolve the problems [Argentina is facing],” he told the C5N news channel.
“Yes, let’s hope they leave in 2019, if they make it”, he told C5N’s Marcelo Zlotogwiazda. “Let them leave via an impeachment, I don’t know. Otherwise, they should take their foot off the accelerator,” he added, referring to the Macri administration’s economic reforms.
“This doesn’t end well, it never ends well. It didn’t end well in 1982, it didn’t end well in 2001. Let’s avoid a catastrophe of this nature, somehow. They either take their foot off the accelerator or we’ll have a similar ending [to the political and economic crises of 1982 and 2001].”
RADIO STATION RAID
Deepening the row, on Wednesday federal police officers raided an independent radio station in Buenos Aires to obtain the recording of an interview the station had conducted with Zaffaroni.
Federal Judge Ariel Lijo is now investigating the former Supreme Court justice on allegations of inciting crime with his controversial remarks.
Radio Caput’s studio and headquarters in downtown Buenos Aires was raided at 8.10am on Wednesday morning, its director Juan Martín Ramos Padilla confirmed to Perfil. “I told the operator [who was the only person working at the time] to ask them to wait but they insisted, they then threatened to lock him in jail and blow our door down,” Ramos Padilla said.