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ARGENTINA | 29-08-2018 18:12

Bonadio summons CFK to testify again, expands investigation back to 2003

Former president summoned to testify before federal judge at Comodoro Py courthouse on Monday, September 3.

Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio this evening ordered former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to appear at the Comodoro Py courthouse next week to testify for a second time, as part of an investigation into the so-called 'bribery notebooks' scandal.

Gregorio Dalbón, one of Fernández de Kirchner's lawyers, confirmed the news to the AFP news agency moments ago. 

The 65-year-old former president, who governed Argentina from 2007 and 2015, appeared before Bonadio earlier this month, on August 13, for questioning in the case, which involves allegations of a bribery ring involving businessmen and high-ranking politicians, in which money was allegedly skimmed off construction contracts for public works projects.

On that occasion, the former president – now a sitting senator for Buenos Aires Province – challenged Bonadio and prosecutor Carlos Stornelli's legitimacy to direct the probe, which she has stated is part of an attempt to draw attention away from Argentina's economic difficulties. Refusing to take questions, she presented a statement in which she denied the charges against her and denounced alleged "judicial persecution."

Fernández de Kirchner has now been ordered to present herself before Bonadio on Monday, September 3 at 11am, for renewed questioning.

According to reports on Perfil.com, the move comes as a direct consequence of the judge deciding to expand the investigation's reach. The probe initially covered events dating from 2008 to 2015, but Bonadio is now seeking to investigate events dating back to 2003, when Fernández de Kirchner was first lady, the Judicial Information Centre said.

He is believed to have also summoned former federal planning minister Julio De Vido and La Cámpora leaders Eduardo "Wado" de Pedro, Andrés Larroque and José Ottavis for questioning, as well as the businessman Sergio Spolzky.

The former president quickly posted a response via Twitter, questioning the timing of the decision.

"The dollar is about to reach 35 pesos and Bonadio calls me again for the same case as the raids," she wrote, suggested the summons was an attempt to draw attention away from the economic turbulence facing the country.

She added that the judge's request was so predictable it was as if he was reading "from a manual."

Dalbón yesterday criticised the investigation, alleged it was "violating all legal procedures." A key complaint is the refusal to allow one of the former president's lawyers to be present at a search of her home last week.

Raids were carried out at three of Fernández de Kirchner's private residences in Recoleta, Buenos Aires City, and Patagonia last week after the Senate voted to temporarily suspend her immunity. The former president also voted in favour of the repeal.

Fernández de Kirchner, 65, served as president from 2007 to 2015, succeeding her late husband Néstor Kirchner as head of state. She is the highest-ranking official being investigated in the so-called 'bribery notebooks' case, which has already ensnared dozens of former government officials and top businessmen.

Prosecutors believe a total of US$160 million may have been paid by business leaders to Fernández de Kirchner, her late husband and her allies and supporters in return for state contracts during a 10-year period from 2005-2015.

Fernández de Kirchner is being investigated in five other cases too.

- TIMES/NA/AFP

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