Federal Judge Marcelo Martínez de Giorgi will take charge of the cases overseen by his late peer Claudio Bonadio, who passed away last week aged 64.
Martínez de Giorgi, born in 1966 in Buenos Aires City, was selected by the Buenos Aires Federal Chamber on Tuesday via lottery. Videos of the moment were later shared on social media, to ensure transparency.
Federal judges Daniel Rafecas, María Servini de Cubría and Luis Rodríguez had excused themselves from the lottery, so the choice came down to the seven remaining federal magistrates: María Eugenia Capuchetti, Sebastián Ramos, Ariel Lijo, Rodolfo Canicoba Corral, Sebastián Casanello, Julián Ercolini and Martínez de Giorgi.
The federal judge, as a result of his selection, will now have two federal criminal courts under his control – numbers 8, which he currently heads, and 11, which Bonadio had overseen since 1994.
Martínez de Giorgi will lead the court 11 until a new judge is appointed, a process that judicial sources could take well over a year.
He takes on a number of high-profile cases, including the infamous 'Cuadernos' corruption notebooks probe, which has Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner at the centre of the investigation.
Bonadio, a controversial figure in the Comodoro Py federal courthouse, died at 6.30am last Tuesday morning at his home in the Belgrano neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, where he had been receiving palliative care after being diagnosed with a brain tumour last year. He had requested an extended leave of absence after the end of the Judiciary’s summer break.
Martínez de Giorgi holds degrees from the Universidad Kennedy and the University of Palermo and has previously taught law at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA).
He has progressed through the ranks of several lower and upper courts, normally keeping as low a profile as possible. In recent years, he has been involved in investigations probing alleged ‘Lava Jato’ corruption involving the Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht and the Sarmiento rail underpass, as well as overseeing cases which involved ex-federal planning minister Julio De Vido and his right-hand man, Roberto Baratta, as well as President Mauricio Macri's cousin, Ángelo Calcaterra.
Among the high-profile cases he has been involved in is the famous 'Sueños Compartidos' case, which probed alleged corruption involved the Fundación Madres de Plaza de Mayo.
Fernández de Kirchner ruling
In related news from the courts, on Monday the last outstanding arrest warrant seeking to hold Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner under pre-trial detention was dismissed by the courts. The former president, who faces eight investigations in the courts in total, most related to corruption, is still charged in the case, however.
The ruling, issued by the Federal Chamber of Criminal Cassation, applies to the so-called ‘Cuadernos’ corruption probe that was overseen by Bonadio until his death. The case involves alleged corruption and bribery related to public works projects during Fernández de Kirchner’s 2007 to 2015 administration and her late husband, Néstor Kirchner’s government.
The Federal Chamber said in its ruling that there was no "procedural risks, that is, the danger of escape or of obstructing the investigation," a judicial source said.
While a total of five requests for the former president to be remanded in custody before trial were issued for the courts in recent years, Fernández de Kirchner has avoided being sent to prison because of her parliamentary privileges, first as a senator and now as Argentina’s vice-president.
The ex-head of state says she is innocent of all the charges against her and says they are a result of “lawfare” tactics and “political persecution,” which she blames on the previous government led by former president Mauricio Macri.