A federal prosecutor in Argentina called on Monday for Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to serve a 12-year prison sentence on corruption allegations, part of a high profile judicial case that’s likely to inflame political tensions.
“Society is calling for justice. Judges, now is the time. It’s either corruption or justice,” Prosecutor Diego Luciani said during a webcast trial from Buenos Aires before delivering his sentencing request. He also called for Fernández de Kirchner to be banned from holding public office in the future.
Fernández de Kirchner, who holds a high level immunity in her dual role as head of Senate, has long denied any wrongdoing, lambasting the charges as politically motivated. She’s asked to speak Tuesday to defend herself against the sentencing request.
The vice-president is accused of alleged fraud and leading an “illicit association” with other government officials and businessman Lazaro Báez, whose companies received numerous public works contracts while Fernández de Kirchner was Argentina’s president from 2007 to 2015.
Separate prosecutions, which are in different legal stages, allege that Báez repaid the Kirchner family millions to stay at their family-owned hotels in a Patagonia province where they governed without actually using the rooms.
President Alberto Fernández immediately published a statement Monday afternoon supporting Fernández de Kirchner, labelling the case “judicial and media persecution.”
“None of the acts attributed to the former president have been proven,” Fernández said in the statement.
Fernández de Kirchner is unlikely to face jail time in the near term. Beyond her legal immunity as vice-president, a judge would have to rule on the case and a date hasn’t been set yet for such a hearing. Fernández de Kirchner can also appeal the ruling to as high as the country’s Supreme Court, which could stretch the case out even longer.
Still, the accusation is likely to inflame political tensions in a nation already facing a severe economic crisis amid a divided ruling coalition.
by Patrick Gillespie, Bloomberg