Argentina’s Federal Criminal Chamber has confirmed that Judge María Eugenia Capuchetti will continue to oversee the case investigating the failed shooting attack against Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, rejecting an appeal from the vice-president seeking her removal from the case.
Fernández de Kirchner, 69, called for the magistrate’s recusal earlier this month, with her legal team arguing that Capuchetti had failed to properly look into lines of investigation relating to the alleged failed assassination attempt that took place almost three months ago, when an assailant emerged from a crowd of the vice-president’s supporters and attempted to fire a gun twice the former president at point-black range. The weapon failed to fire.
The attacker, his girlfriend and the alleged leader of the so-called ‘los copitos’ gang have been arrested for the attack, from which the former 2007-2015 president escaped unscathed.
Fernández de Kirchner, who has faced multiple corruption allegations against her since leaving office, sought Capuchetti’s recusal by accusing her of failing to fully investigate the attack and accusing her of impartiality.
The appeals court, upholding the judge’s legitimacy in the case, did order Caputchetti to "corroborate or rule out" alleged statements by opposition Juntos por el Cambio lawmaker Gerardo Milman that could determine he knew about the attack in advance.
"When they kill her, I'm going to be on my way to the coast," Milman allegedly told two aides two days before the attack, according to a witness.
The federal chamber also ordered that new evidence be sought.
Capuchetti decided last week to leave the investigation in the hands of Prosecutor Carlos Rívolo, in an attempt to dispel doubts about impartiality until a ruling had been made by the appeals court.
The former president (2007-2015) has publicly criticised the judge in a series of posts on her social media accounts.
"When the first evidence emerged implicating the politician in the attack, Judge Capuchetti paralysed and boycotted the investigation. It is clear that the judicial party [a reference to her opponents and the Judiciary] does not want Cristina as a victim, they want her imprisoned or dead," said a narrator in a video posted by Fernández de Kirchner alleging Milman’s role in a conspiracy to kill her.
Fernández de Kirchner, who is standing trial for alleged corruption during her two terms in office, is facing a 12-year prison sentence and disqualification from holding political office in the so-called ‘Vialidad’ trial that is nearing its end.
The vice-president is due to deliver her closing statement in that trial on Tuesday. A verdict is expected to be known before the end of the year.