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ARGENTINA | 18-02-2019 16:56

Fernández de Kirchner's corruption trial pushed back to May

Trial set to begin next week pushed back given one of the judges involved now faces a triple bypass surgery.

The corruption trial of former Argentina president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, set to begin next week, has been postponed until May, authorities said on Monday.

Judicial sources today confirmed that the trial had been pushed back to May 21, given health problems experienced by Judge Jorge Tassara, of Federal Oral Court No. 2. The first hearing was scheduled for February 24, but as a result of Tassara's health problems – he will undergo a triple bypass surgery – a decision was made to postpone the beginning of oral and public trial against the former president.

It is one of several corruption trials facing the center-left Peronist politician, who turns 66 on Tuesday.

In this case, she is accused of having favoured businessman Lazaro Báez in the attribution of 52 public works contracts worth 46 billion pesos (US$1.2 billion) during the 2007-15 period when she was president.

Testimony

Next Monday, she is also due to appear before federal judge Claudio Bonadio to answer questions relating to the 'cuardernos' "corruption notebooks" case, in which she is accused of having received tens of millions of dollars in bribes and of leading a criminal association.

Fernández de Kirchner, now a senator with partial parliamentary immunity, claims to be the victim of political persecution from the government of President Mauricio Macri.

The two are widely expected to lock horns in an election battle in October.

Detentions

The Báez case had been scheduled to proceed on Tuesday next week, but now the case will be pushed back to May. Báez and other officials are being held in pre-trial detention.

Fernández de Kirchner was ordered to be held in pre-trial detention over the corruption notebooks case but her partial parliamentary immunity protects her from imprisonment, although not prosecution.

The 'cuardernos' corruption notebooks scandal revolves around the meticulous records kept by a government chauffeur, Oscar Centeno, of cash bribes he is said to have delivered from businessmen to government officials.

Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli has said a total of US$160 million in bribes was handed over between 2005 and 2015.

Boudou back to jail

Meanwhile, authorities ordered the detention of Kirchner's former vice-president Amado Boudou.

Last August, Boudou was sentenced to almost six years in prison for "passive bribery" and conduct "incompatible" with his duties as a public servant, but he was then released on bail in December.

That related to his attempt to buy a company that printed currency through a front business while serving as Kirchner's economy minister.

Anti-corruption authorities appealed the decision to release him on bail, and the federal chamber of cassation agreed that his liberty presented a "procedural risk."

- TIMES/AFP

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