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ARGENTINA | 25-08-2021 17:02

'Olivosgate': Courts to formally accuse Fernández of violating Covid-19 rules

President Alberto Fernández will be formally accused by the courts with violating his own Covid-19 quarantine rules before the weekend, according to judicial sources.

President Alberto Fernández will be formally accused by the courts with violating his own Covid-19 quarantine rules, according to judicial sources, most likely before the weekend

Federal Prosecutor Ramiro González is preparing an indictment against the Peronist leader  related to the party held at the Quinta de Olivos presidential residence on July 14, 2020 marking the birthday of First Lady Fabiola Yañez.

The indictment that President Alberto Fernández will receive "is inevitable, given the accumulation of evidence, and it will be [issued] shortly” before the weekend,  judicial sources told the Noticias Argentinas news agency.

Meanwhile, an investigation exploring alleged crimes related to the incident continues to progress. Federal Judge Sebastián Casanello will also have to rule on the constitutionality over the charges, in the wake of a legal challenge by one of guests who attended the party and is also under investigation, lawyer Stefanía Domínguez.

Through her lawyer Mauricio D 'Alessandro, Domínguez has alleged that the decree that was in place in July 2020, signed by the president imposing preventative isolation and quarantine measures, is unconstitutional.

Some reports on Tuesday suggested that the president has already decided to appear before the courts “in compensation” for having attended the birthday celebrations. Fernández is said to believe that “no crime” was committed, though he is reported to be keen to set an example and give testimony freely in order to “repair” what Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero called “a mistake.”

Separate reports suggested that the president will seek to end the legal process against him by utilising a little-used portion of Argentina's Penal Code (Article 59, Paragraph 6), which allows a criminal action to be extinguished "by conciliation or integral reparation of damage." The president would, if allowed, offer to make a "comprehensive" donation to compensate for the incident, most likely part of his salary.


Before the weekend

González, the prosecutor who is leading the investigation, plans to notify Fernández of the crime for which he is being investigated before the weekend. It is believed that the head of state will be charged with violating the protocol that he himself imposed via presidential decree to face the Covid-19 pandemic in July 2020.

It is unknown if Fernández will retain legal counsel for the case, or deal with it himself personally. Most expect Gregorio Dalbón, an experienced lawyer who has represented Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and has given interviews to media outlets on the so-called ‘Olivosgate’ scandal, to be appointed.

Earlier Wednesday, it emerged that the Anti-Corruption Office (OA) had opened an internal investigation to determine whether, in addition to a crime, the president committed a breach of public ethics.

The file, opened after a series of anonymous complaints received through the agency's website and legal briefs filed by two citizens, Denise Demkow and Andrés José Dangelo Rodríguez, has been handed over to Federal Court No. 7, under the charge of Judge Casanello.

Inside the casefile are widely circulated images showing Fernández, Yáñez, their dog Dylan and a number of guests. Those in the photos have been identified and cross-referenced with the Quinta de Olivos security list from the day, which records those who enter and exit the presidential residence.

As well as Fernández and Yáñez, more than 60 individuals are included in the full legal brief, which kicked off following a complaint by leaders of the 'Republican Unidos' political group, who cited a number of events including the controversial birthday party. Among those denounced for attending numerous events include famous musician Pedro Aznar, national deputy Rodolfo Tailhade and Legal & Technical Secretary Vilmar Ibarra.



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