Wednesday, December 6, 2023

ARGENTINA | 14-11-2023 09:03

A look at post-election court cases awaiting Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

Just four days after the change of government, Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner faces a key court date on December 14 in the Vialidad Case, the only trial in which she has been sentenced.

Argentina's Vice-President Cristina Fernández faces a key court date just four days after the nation's next president is sworn into office on December 10, with the former head of state facing potential prison terms in at least 10 ongoing trials.

The only case in which she has received a conviction and sentence to date, the so-called 'Vialidad Case' centred on corruption in the awarding and delivery of highway construction projects in Santa Cruz Province, will reopen proceedings on December 14, when a Federal Criminal Appeals Court will call a preliminary hearing for the appeal filed by Fernández de Kirchner's defence against the six-year prison sentence and lifetime pan from political office she received.

Subsequent hearings will take place until April 2024, when the highest court in criminal matters may reverse, affirm or even increase the sentence.

Fernández de Kirchner currently has congressional immunity and appeals would likely tie any sentence up in court for years. However, she has vowed she will not seek any public office after the 2023 general elections, placing a giant question mark over her future in politics.

Given her age, 70, she would be unlikely to serve jail time even if the sentence is final or ultimately “res judicata."

According to the CIJ Judicial Information Centre, Fernández de has currently 26 open cases against her, and 27 which have already been concluded.

In addition to the Vialidad Case, two oral criminal courts are yet to set a date for two trials reopened by the Criminal Appeals Court: 'Hotesur-Los Sauces,' focused on alleged corruption involving Kirchner family-owned hotels; and her government's controversial 2013 Memorandum of Understanding with Iran.

Both cases against Argentina's vice-president had previously been dismissed, but appeals courts determined that a not guilty verdict should come from trials.

Meanwhile, federal judges in Buenos Aires must solve Fernández de Kirchner’s legal situation in the money-laundering case known as 'Ruta del Dinero.'

Judge Sebastián Casanello, by motion of prosecutor Guillermo Marijuán, initially dismissed that case, but an NGO linked to Juntos por el Cambio (which had not stated its intent to be a plaintiff during the previous 10 years of the investigation) interrupted proceedings at the last minute to object to the ruling.

A Federal Appeals Court sustained the objection and re- opened the appeal, which could lead to the 2007-2015 former president from being placed under investigation once again.

Parts of the so-called 'Cuadernos' corruption notebooks case has been heard, in different segments, before Federal Oral Criminal Court No. 7 for over three years, which so far has rejected all the motions to quash the case filed by parties involved, including the vice-president’s defence team. The oral criminal court must set a date for the debate, but the last movements of the cases do not show any likelihood of that happening in the short run.

The “Cuadernos” Case led to other investigations, among them “Cartelización de la Obra Pública,” a separate investigation which could be included in the main case file.

The so-called 'Dollar futures' case, based on government actions during her administrations, is for the time being is the only one in which the Supreme Court must finally decide whether to send Fernández de Kirchner to oral proceedings or to dismiss the case for good.

The case file was closed even before the Criminal Appeals Court stage but it reached the Supreme Court, and in that instance Interim Attorney-General Eduardo Casal recommended that the case continue and be defined during the proceedings.

Another case pending resolution involves allegations that Fernández de Kirchner used state aircraft for personal benefit. That case file was nullified by the Criminal Appeals Court, but a Juntos por el Cambio deputy reported new events which allegedly took place during the former president's time in office, and thus the case file remains open.



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