Tuesday, June 25, 2024

ARGENTINA | 01-08-2023 14:55

Calligraphy experts say parts of the 'Cuadernos' graft notebooks were manipulated

Expert opinions ordered by Judge Martínez de Giorgi conclude former policeman Jorge Bacigalupo, a friend of Oscar Centeno, made annotations to handwritten pages before they were delivered to the courts.

Calligraphy experts have concluded that “added and amended writings” were made to at least one of the infamous ‘Cuadernos’ corruption notebooks at the heart of an ongoing court trial.

Annotations were added, according to experts ordered by Judge Marcelo Martínez de Giorgi to study the books. The changes were made by Jorge Bacigalupo, a former policeman and friend of Oscar Centeno, the former chauffeur from Federal Planning Ministry who allegedly wrote the records detailing alleged graft during the Kirchnerite administrations.

“The handwriting of the overwriting in the case reported by businessman Armando Loson is Bacigalupo’s," court sources said. It was further reported that after receiving the report, Martínez de Giorgi ordered the forensic inspection of mobile and electronic devices seized from Bacigalupo’s home the day he was searched within the investigation.

The investigation into the so-called ‘Cuadernos’ graft notebooks, which has been sent for an oral hearing, started on the basis of Centeno’s writing. According to investigators, the driver kept detailed notes of alleged kickbacks paid by business leaders to government officials  to obtain public works contracts. 

The case involves Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and a dozen of her ex collaborators and a score of businessmen from major construction companies in Argentina, from multinational Techint to IECSA, which belonged to the family members linked to former president Mauricio Macri. 

According to Centeno’s notes, high-level executives delivered countless bags of cash to government officials over a 12-year period (2003-2015) spanning the Néstor and Cristina Kirchner administration to secure the award of public works biddings. 

Many business leaders involved in the case turned whistleblowers, admitting to wrongdoing in order to avoid prison sentences in exchange for cooperation with courts. In their confessions, they stated that the funds had been contributions to the Kirchners’ election campaigns.


Expert findings

According to a 23-page expert report, the handwriting in the notebooks of the investigation was compared with files of the Argentine Federal Police. Bacigalupo’s handwriting was examined and a conclusion has been reached that the two are the same. 

“With the limitations specified both in terms of the undoubted and the doubtful material we can infer that Mr Jorge José Bacigalupo added the writings and amendments in Notebook 7”, reads one of the conclusions of the study. 

The experts referenced the words “Armando”, “Alem 855” and “Ing. Ferreyra” in particular, which had been amended.

They also worked with handwritten notes seized from the ex-police officer’s dwelling, obtained during a search of Bacigalupo’s home, which consisted of “planners, notebooks and various papers”, obtained “in order to establish whether or not it was undoubted,” the Télam state news agency reported.

This was in addition to a “series of writings obtained by the courts” over the course of this year, verifying that “the morphological characteristics are maintained, as are the combinations of signs in cursive and block letters.”

These samples showed the “amendment of some literal signs such as the “y”, “r”, “n”, crossed out words, tilt changes, pressing”, which would indicate a “lack of spontaneity” which “can be attributed to a nervous state during the act,” according to the document signed by Police Chief Alejandro Matías Centofanti, Inspector Analía Noemí Ojeda and experts appointed at the request of the interested party Guillermo Latour, Gastón Latour y Jorge Baz.


Missing originals

On the other hand, the report also highlighted that work on photographic samples, “despite their being obtained from the original notebooks, make it impossible for experts to go deeper into the study” of the writings, which “can only be analysed in the original text.”

“Consequently, if we indeed had the original for examination, it would be possible to gather a greater number of elements to value and increase the degree of assertiveness on what was presented to us,” it elaborated, highlighting the fact that the original notebooks are now not in federal custody.

A search of Jorge Bacigalupo’s home on March 11 was ordered this year, bsed on alleged irregularities reported by businessman Armando Loson after a private calligraphy expert report of the notebooks. 

“We cannot dismiss the potential involvement of the above-mentioned party in the alterations and/or modifications of the modified handwritten notes, which allows for the gathering of other valid evidence for the success of the investigation,” stated Martínez de Giorgi. 

Another aspect highlighted by the expert report is Bacigalupo’s “lack of spontaneity” when he was summoned by the courts to obtain his handwriting. In order to have one more source for comparison, the former policeman sat down to write a text in Martínez de Giorgi’s court, and the Federal Police analysed those writings. 

According to the expert opinion, these writings showed “significant magnification of letters compared to those verified in the police’s documentary evidence.” This is “indicative of a lack of spontaneity upon its completion,” the report adds. 



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