Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Perfil

ARGENTINA | 30-10-2019 08:00

Courts drops two charges against Fernández de Kirchner, proceeds with another

Vice-president-elect remains under investigation in number of probes related to alleged corruption during her government. She denies all the claims against her.

Less than 48 hours after she was confirmed as Argentina's next vice-president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner received two pieces of good news from the courts, as well as one setback.

On Tuesday, the Federal Court of Buenos Aires announced it had dropped two indictments against the former president.

The first count involves alleged bribery and the favouring of certain road projects in her home province of Santa Cruz, while a second charge regards alleged irregularities in the import of liquefied natural gas. 

The rulings were issued by judges Leopoldo Bruglia and Pablo Bertuzzi from Room 1 of the Federal Court in Buenos Aires. 

Meanwhile, a third charge against her for nefarious public works contracts was upheld.

All three allegations stem from the infamous 'Cuadernos de las Coimas' ["Notebooks of corruption") investigation, based on detailed records of alleged corruption kept by a driver assigned to the federal Planning Ministry, Oscar Centeno. That case is overseen by Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio, who is also in command of other corruption cases against the former president.

As well as the former president, a number of former government officials and senior businessmen have found themselves in trouble with courts over the alleged bribery and corruption detailed in the notebooks.

Rulings

Tuesday's first ruling, regarding the alleged payment of bribes and kickbacks to firms holding public works contracts during the Kirchnerite years, was kicked out after testimony from a defendant turned state witness, former head of the OCCOVI roads body Claudio Uberti, indicating that the evidence regarding alleged corruption pointed toward Néstor Kichner, but not Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The court confirmed the indictment against Uberti, along with the former minister of federal planning Julio de Vido and businessmen including Marcelino Miguel Aznar, who stands accused of forming party of the illicit association.

In the second instance, the judges revoked an indictment against Fernández de Kirchner relating to the alleged overpayment of liquefied natural gas (LNG), citing a lack of merit.

“Relating to the ties between the actions and the importation of petroleum, as it relates to the mission of this docket, the elements of evidence we’ve gathered to this point doesn’t permit the affirmation — with the grade of probability required at this stage — of a nexus between these operations and the creation of said criminal collective oriented towards generating funds,” read the ruling

In this case, however, the judges did ratify the indictment of De Video, ex-government official Roberto Baratta, former ENARSA head Ezequiel Espinoza and businessmen José and Roberto Dromi.

Finally, the court confirmed charges against Fernandez de Kirchner for 175 counts of "passive bribery" for the delivery of public works during the second term of her government, which spanned from 2011 to 2015.

The same resolution moved forward with charges against a large number of businessmen like Carlos Wagner, Gerardo Ferreyra, Aldo Roggio, Héctor Javier Sanchez Caballero, Juan Chediak, Ángelo Calcaterra – President Mauricio Macri's cousin – and Cristobal Lopez. At the same time, it dropped charges against Lazaro Baez, Eduardo Eurnekian and other businessmen. 

Clarín described the third ruling as "an unequivocal message" of "strong support" for Bonadio, coming 48 hours after her election as vice-president.

As it stands, of the 12 indictments Fernandez de Kirchner faced, 10 now remain. Six have already gone to trial, three are confirmed and one is awaiting revision. 

The former president's lawyers have maintained that the allegations are part of a plot of political persecution aimed at preventing her from returning to power.

There are several outstanding requests that the former head of state be detained under pre-trial arrest, but her immunity as a senator has prevented her being placed behind bars. 

Fernández de Kirchner will assume the vice-presidency on December 10, when her running-mate, President-elect Alberto Fernández, assumes office.

-- TIMES/PERFIL

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