Monday, July 15, 2024

ARGENTINA | 17-11-2023 17:14

La Libertad Avanza walk back election fraud claims

Libertarian party’s lawyer presents Twitter screenshots and press clippings to support allegations of irregularities, but says LLA isn’t denouncing fraud but seeking greater precautions.

La Libertad Avanza have walked back controversial claims ahead of Sunday’s presidential run-off, clarifying that they have not denounced fraud before the courts but have asked electoral authorities to take extreme precautions in securing the vote.

Santiago Viola, proxy and lawyer for Javier Milei’s libertarian party, said Friday that the party had not denounced fraud, despite party figures saying days earlier that there had been “colossal fraud” in the election’s first round on October 22.

Viola delivered his comments after appearing before electoral prosecutor Ramiro González, who requested he provide details about allegations made by leading party figures, including Milei, that National Gendarmerie (Border Guard) security officers had interfered with ballot boxes.

As a result, the electoral prosecutor initiated a preliminary investigation. To "clear up" further doubts he summoned Viola, the party’s legal proxy and Karina Milei, the presidential candidate’s sister who did not appear Friday as she was in Córdoba with her brother at his closing campaign rally.

Speaking to the press, Viola said that La Libertad Avanza sought to ensure the “transparency and legality” of Sunday’s vote.

"It was not a complaint but a presentation made with the aim of taking extreme care in the transfer of ballot boxes in view of the second round to be held on November 19 and with the sole intention of contributing to the transparency and legality of the elections," said the lawyer.

According to reports in Perfil, the libertarian force presented little to no evidence for its claims of electoral fraud, presenting only screenshots of unverified allegations posted on social media and a single news clipping.

Viola reportedly provided three screenshots from the X (formerly Twitter) social network González and a document from Karina Milei, which was digitally signed at Tuesday, November 14, at 15:41pm. It warned about alleged fraud and asked electoral Judge María Servini to take measures to prevent it.

The date is not a minor detail – two of the screenshots presented before the court correspond to posts made after the signature and presentation of the document before Servini's court. 

The posts allege, without providing evidence, that Gendarmerie officers were moving ballot boxes and engaging in electoral fraud.

The news clipping is from a little-known news site called El Liberal and is from an article entitled "Escándalo en Gendarmería de Santiago: coimas, millones secuestrados y 12 detenidos" (“Scandal in Gendarmerie in Santiago: bribes, millions seized and 12 arrested”). It details an investigation into an alleged group of Gendarmerie officers involved in bribery and the trafficking of goods and does not relate to the election.

Viola confirmed that "the presentation was made by virtue of comments on social networks and some journalistic notes and testimonies collected personally that referred to the facts brought to our attention.”

The lawyer explained that it was not a question of denouncing "any of the security forces" and that they "trust" the authorities that they will take the necessary precautions for next Sunday's elections.

The comments are in stark difference to comments from presidential candidate Milei last week, who suggested in a YouTube interview with Peruvian writer and journalist Jamie Bayly that there had been serious “irregularities” in the first round vote that “place the result in doubt.”

The prosecutor's office must now decide whether to open a formal investigation or ask for the probe to be shelved. 



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