Monday, July 15, 2024
Perfil

ARGENTINA | 18-06-2024 22:40

Ex-Tucumán governor Alperovich handed 16 years for rape, sexual assault

Former provincial governor and senator sentenced to 16 years and lifetime ban from holding political office; Found guilty of rape and sexual abuse of his ex-aide, a distant relative who worked for him as an advisor between 2017 and 2018.

José Alperovich, the powerful Tucumán politician who served three terms as provincial governor, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for the rape and sexual abuse of his former private secretary.

Alperovich, 69, was on Tuesday found guilty of six counts of rape (vaginal, anal and oral), three counts of sexual abuse and two counts of attempted sexual abuse, all occurring between 2017 and 2018. 

The veteran Peronist, who led his native province for 12 years, serving three terms as governor from 2003 to 2015, was also disqualified from holding public office.

In his verdict, Federal Judge Alejo Ramos Padilla said the crimes involved "intimidation, abuse of a relationship of dependence, power and authority.”

His victim – identified during the trial as 'M.F.L.' – has been commonly referred to as Alperovich's niece, though the relationship is closer to a first cousin once removed. The plaintiff was employed as his private secretary during the period in which the abuse took place.

Alperovich received the ruling with his head down and eyes closed. His wife Beatriz Rojkes and the victim followed the hearing via Zoom.

After handing down the sentence, Judge Ramos Padilla ordered Alperovich be remanded in custody until his conviction is confirmed by a higher court. 

The former senator, who has remained at liberty throughout the trial, was transferred to a detention centre ahead of being assigned to a federal jail. He will remain behind bars until July 2040 if his sentence is confirmed.

Milagro Mariona, a spokesperson for the plaintiff, described the verdict as “a very important message against impunity.”

"We are surprised by the sentence. We did not expect 16 years, as the prosecution requested, and now he is going to prison. We are very happy and I think that Judge Ramos Padilla sets a precedent for this type of case,” she added.

Prosecutors had requested 16 and a half years for the former senator, once considered to be one of the “feudal lords” of the Peronist north. The victim asked the judge to sentence her aggressor to 22 years jail time.

Alperovich arrived at Oral Criminal Court No. 29 in Buenos Aires on Tuesday amid a heavy security operation. Accompanied by his four children, he was obliged by Ramos Padilla to await the reading of the ruling at the courthouse. 

According to the victim, the first unwanted advance took place in Buenos Aires at the end of 2017, shortly after she began working as an advisor to the Tucumán ex-governor, who by then was a senator. 

Alperovich travelled regularly with his niece from his home province to the capital and back.

Of the nine alleged acts, two took place in the flat used by Alperovich in Puerto Madero. The most serious offences occurred in March 2018 in Tucumán Province, according to the victim, in San Miguel de Tucumán and Yerba Buena.

"Alperovich wove a web with which he trapped the young woman. He used three techniques to break down her defences: an ostentation of material wealth, a demonstration of political leadership and, at the same time, he took it upon himself to denigrate and demean her," said prosecutor Sandro Abraldes during the trial.

The prosecutor considered that all the acts of sexual violence were committed "through intimidation and abuse of a relationship of dependence, power and authority.”

"He totally overwhelmed the victim, he turned her into an object of his sexual pleasure," he said.

The victim filed her criminal complaint in November 2019 and published an open letter setting out her reasons for pressing charges.

"I am not writing to convince anyone of anything. I am here against the oppression of silence and because of the need to recover my life, to heal by calling things as they are, without softening them, giving the monster a name and a surname. When you don't give it a name, it doesn't exist,” she wrote. 

Alperovich’s defence team argued during the trial that the victim's testimony was unreliable. They based some of that hypothesis on a phrase she attributed to the defendant (“Mirá como me pones”) that was also attributed to a convicted rapist in another high-profile criminal trial.

Judge Ramos Padilla also ordered that three witnesses who testified at the trial be investigated for giving false testimony.

Alperovich had requested a trial by jury, invoking a norm of the City of Buenos Aires, but the court turned him down. He also tried to transfer the case to Tucumán but the court rejected his plea against the jurisdiction of the Federal Capital, where the trial will now proceed.


 

– TIMES/NA/AFP

related news

Comments

More in (in spanish)