The Comodoro Rivadavia Federal Appeals Court has ordered an investigation be opened against former president Mauricio Macri, ex-Defence minister Oscar Aguad and retired Navy chief-of-staff Vice-Admiral Marcelo Srur to study whether the trio hold “criminal responsibility” related to the sinking of the ARA San Juan submarine three years ago
The investigation had been requested by the families of the 44 dead crew-members, who also accused Macri of spying on them during the hunt for the submarine. The three accused had previously been removed from the investigation by the judge in the first instance, Marta Yáñez.
The investigation must now be reviewed and expanded, after the appeal filed by the victims' families was supported by the court’s prosecutor. According to reports, it will probe defence spending cuts under the Macri administration as part of its brief.
The explosion and sinking of the ARA San Juan submarine took place on November 15, 2017 when the vessel was returning from Ushuaia to Mar del Plata naval base.
Its remains were found more than a year later over 900 metres below the South Atlantic waves in an underwater canyon of the continental shelf.
The submarine was a German-made TR-1700, 66 metres long, which served from 1985 until it suffered an apparent internal explosion due to technical failures.
The court’s ruling, as well as indicting the three accused, also confirmed the prosecution of four ex-Navy chiefs, who are charged with a “breach of the duties of a public official, omission of duties of the office and culpable damage aggravated by the result of death."
The court requested that the investigations of the former officials should place emphasis on "the evidence that accounts for the budget cuts that affected the Armed Forces and in particular the ships that participated" in operations.
Macri also faces court trouble under another jurisdiction related to alleged illegal espionage of the late crew’s families, through wiretapping and surveillance.