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ARGENTINA | 04-05-2022 21:40

Ex-Tucumán governor and senator José Alperovich indicted on sex abuse, rape charges

Former national senator and governor of Tucumán Province José Alperovich formally indicted by courts for alleged sexual abuse and rape. Complaint made by his niece and ex-personal assistant.

Former national senator and governor of Tucumán Province José Alperovich has been formally indicted by the courts for sexual abuse and rape.

The complaint against him, first made in November 2019, was made by his niece. 

On Wednesday, Judge Osvaldo Rappa of National Criminal and Correctional Court 35 ordered the former governor’s prosecution and ordered the seizure of 2.5 million pesos in assets in a 419-page ruling.

The woman, who has not been named by the courts, accuses Alperovich, 67, of committing sexual abuse and raping her on multiple occasions during 2017 and 2019 in Buenos Aires and Tucumán, when she was working for him on his electoral campaign.

The decision to indict the former senator, who left office in December last year after requesting a leave of absence in late 2019, comes after both accused and accuser appeared in court by videoconference to give testimony last month. 

Alperovich, who governed Tucumán from 2003 to 2015, testified virtually on April 20. He denied responsibility for the acts for which he is accused and refused to answer additional questions.

He stands accused of three counts of sexual abuse and six counts of aggravated sexual abuse or rape. 

Prosecutors Santiago Vismara and Mariela Labozzetta have requested that Alperovich be indicted on three occasions. 

The allegations made by the complainant were supported by reports and psychological assessments carried out under the framework of the case, the prosecutors said, citing filings by a medical board and various healthcare professionals who had contact with the alleged victim. 

In the reports, experts observed that the events occurred in an environment of violence.

"The vast majority of cases of sexual abuse, such as the present one, are committed in an intimate environment where it is not always possible to have eyewitnesses to what happened,” said Vismara and Labozzetta. 

Argentina’s Supreme Court has already ruled that the case should be heard in the Federal Capital, since a parallel case was instituted in Tucumán, where the former governor intended it to remain. 

Alperovich's defence team can still appeal Rappa's ruling, which will then be analysed by the Criminal Court.

The former governor continues to deny all charges. In a 2019 letter requesting a leave of absence as a senator, he claimed that his accuser had “falsely represented herself as a victim” and that he had “previously” lodged a “complaint” against her. 

Referring his testimony, last month he said in a post on Twitter that the claims were “a false accusation [made] with the aim of excluding me from the political scene.”


Allegations

The allegations were first aired by Alperovich's niece, the ex-governor’s former personal assistant, in an explosive open letter that used the hashtag ‘#NoNosCallamosMás.’

According to the woman, the abuse took place over an 18-month period lasting until mid-2019. She alleges she suffered both physical injuries which have been “duly documented”and psychological damage causing her to lose 12 kilogrammes in weight.

“I’m not writing to convince anybody of anything,” she wrote in her open letter, “I’m here against the oppression of silence and the need to recover my life ... by giving the monster a name and surname. Mine is called José Jorge Alperovich by whom I was raped sexually, physically and psychologically between December, 2017, and May, 2019.”

As a result both her family and working life became a nightmare, the letter continued. She expressed reluctance to enter into details of the abuse, beyond saying that she was kissed, fondled and penetrated against her will, but in quoting the words of the actress Zuleika Esnal (who denounced abuse under the same hashtag), she implied that the senator had a distinct preference for anal intercourse in order to avoid the risk of pregnancy.    

“I was completely trapped ... never in my life have I cried so much,” continued the letter, adding that in all that period she was unable to take a holiday and only felt free from her “nightmare” when the senator travelled.

Alperovich, 64, was born into a wealthy business family of Lithuania-Jewish origin and carried on the family business in Tucumán before entering political life as a Radical provincial legislator in 1995. Although nominally Radical, his three terms as Tucumán governor coincided with the 12 years of Kirchner presidencies with the result that he evolved into one of the most ardent Kircherites in local politics.

In Tucumán’s 2018 provincial elections he attempted a comeback by running against his chosen successor Juan Luis Manzur but finished in fourth place with 11.6 percent.

He has served multiple terms as a senator representing his home province, from 2001 to 2008 and 2015 to 2021.

 

– TIMES/NA
 

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