Sunday, June 16, 2019
Perfil

ARGENTINA | 03-05-2019 12:53

Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio diagnosed with suspected brain tumour

Perfil.com reports Claudio Bonadio, the federal judge leading the 'cuadernos' graft notebooks investigation probing alleged corruption under Kirchner governments, has been diagnosed with a suspected brain tumour or cyst. The severity of the diagnosis is yet to become known.

Claudio Bonadio, the federal judge leading the high-profile 'cuadernos' corruption notebooks investigation, has been diagnosed with a suspected brain tumour or cyst, Perfil.com reported early this afternoon.

High-level sources inside the Comodoro Py courthouse in the capital confirmed the news to Perfil this morning, after rumours began circulating in judicial circles on Thursday.

The sources confirmed Bonadio, who is also leading many other corruption probes involving former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and other ex-government officials, had requested medical leave, initially for 15 days.

The severity of the condition and the treatment programme he may face as a result of the diagnosis remain unknown. While initial reports suggested he had a tumour, sources later confirmed that Bonadio is suffering a type of "brain injury." The diagnosis was downgraded as tests are still yet to be carried out, they said.

According to the most recent reports, Bonadio will undergo a medical procedure at the Belgrano branch of the Fleni Institute, on Montañeses street, this Saturday, May 4. 

The news was initially broken this morning by the journalist Horacio Verbitsky on El Destape radio, who said the news was an "open secret" at the courthouse.

"Several days ago it was learned that he had asked for a [medical] licence," said Verbitsky, saying the rumours had been confirmed to him by "initially a prosecutor and ... later by a judge very close to him."

"He said he was tired, he had to rest and [the rumours] started spreading about health problems. In Comodoro Py, it is an open secret that he has a health problem and that it is serious," added Verbitsky.

The journalist claimed that Bonadio, 63, had undergone an MRI scan that had spotted "a tumor in the cerebellum with a very reserved prognosis."

Although the sources inside the courthouse told Perfil.com they didn't know the judge's prognosis, Verbitsky claimed it was "unlikely" the judge would return to court and take on his cases in the short term.

"I can not assure you, I am not a doctor, but because of the seriousness he is unlikely to return," the journalist said.

Questioned by Radio 10 about the news, Justice Minister Germán Garavano said that he did not "have information to confirm or to deny" the rumours

Bonadio's initial medical leave is scheduled to last until May 15. He will have to request an extension, or return to his court, where he has sat on the bench since the 1990s.

Questions

The development will pose questions over the direction of a series of high-profile cases, none more so than those involving Fernández de Kirchner, especially the so-called 'cuadernos de las coimas' case.

The cuadernos probe – which is based on records allegedly kept by Oscar Centeno, a former driver and chaffeur detailed to key officials in the Planning Ministry – is investigating an alleged sweeping bribery scheme during the administrations of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who stands accused of orchestrating a kickback scheme in cahoots with leading figures from country's construction sector. 

The notebooks came to light after they were the subject of investigations by the La Nación local daily. According to prosecutors, at least US$160 million in bribes were paid between 2003 and 2007 alone.

In total, Fernández de Kirchner currently faces eight legal proceedings, another five rulings ordering that she be put under preventative arrest (she cannot be arrested given her parliamentary immunity as a national Senator), and five trials.

The first oral and public trial is scheduled to begin on May 21 when she will face charges of embezzling public works funds tied to contracts in Santa Cruz province. Former Planning Ministry officials and the businessman Lázaro Báez, the Kirchners’ alleged frontman, will also face trial.

- TIMES

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