The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a two-year prison sentence against jailed Túpac Amaru social activist Milagro Sala for threatening Jujuy provincial policemen, unanimously turning down the appeals of Sala’s defence lawyers.
The ruling comes amid ongoing tension between the Supreme Corte and the government. Sala has been detained on various charges for over five years and is considered a “political prisoner” by Kirchnerism. On January 16 Kirchnerite demonstrators hurled rubbish at the central courthouse to press for Sala’s release.
This case in particular required a ruling as it was about to expire under the statute of limitations, as brought to the Supreme Court’s attention by interim Attorney-General Eduardo Casal.
Sala was initially acquitted in the first trial of this case in 2018 but that verdict was later reversed.
The social leader was tried for telephoning a police precinct which had just arrested a Tupac Amaru comrade and saying: "You’re an incompetent bunch, when I place a bomb in your station, you’ll know who I am. I’ll blow you all up to smithereens."
Sala was initially acquitted for only having the word of two policemen for her threats but the prosecution appealed to the provincial Cassation Court, which not only overturned the acquittal but slapped a 38-month prison sentence on the social leader.
The case was then taken to Jujuy’s provincial Supreme Court, which reduced the sentence to two years, whereupon Sala commenced the legal action leading to last Thursday’s Supreme Court decision at national level.
On Thursday, a number of Sala's supporters issued an open letter, calling for her release. "Today there has been a new violation of Milagro Sala's basic human rights," it read, criticising the actions of the courts and provincial Governor Gerardo Morales. "Once again, politics prevails over law," it concluded.
President Alberto Fernández has previously stated that he believes Sala is a victim of "lawfare."
Sala, speaking in a Zoom call with legislators from Frente Grande, criticised the ruling but said it “would not affect her.”
"It seems that today a national and popular government is not governing. It seems that today the Supreme Court of the Nation governs. It seems that today TN [television channel] and La Nación [newspaper] governs. It seems that today neoliberalism continues to govern. It seems that today the embassy of the United States governs,” she said.
“Because the justice system, in Argentina, has not changed anything. The same justice system that Macri installed continues. The same judges and prosecutors continue to be there," she said.
This is the first confirmed sentence against Sala, who has been detained for more than five years and is now being held under house arrest. She has other sentences that are not yet final and which are being appealed, including a 13-year term relating to allegations of embezzlement.
– TIMES with agencies