Monday, July 22, 2024

ARGENTINA | 28-07-2020 22:09

Trial into alleged public works graft, with CFK in dock, to restart next week

Trial into alleged corruption in the awarding of public works contracts to restart online next Monday after suspension due to coronavirus pandemic.

The trial of Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, among other defendants, for alleged corruption in the award of public works contracts during her 2007-2015 presidency will be resumed online next Monday after being suspended for 20 weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision was taken on July 24 by the Tribunal Oral Federal 2 court following the "satisfactory results" of technical tests the previous day.

The hearings will be held remote videoconference link every Monday and Tuesday. The former president’s lawyer, Carlos Beraldi, has requested the direct transmission of the sessions to guarantee their publicity.

The trial kicked off in May last year just as the centre-left Peronist ticket of Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner for the upcoming elections was being defined.

This is the first of the nine cases involving the former president to come to trial.

Fernández de Kirchner, 67, maintains that the cases against her were motivated by political persecution during the Mauricio Macri administration (2015-2019) and by the personal enmity of late federal judge Claudio Bonadio trying most of these cases until succumbing to cancer last February.

In this trial Fernández de Kirchner is accused of favouring businessman Lázaro Báez by awarding him 51 highway contracts in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, the historic bastion of the Kirchner marriage. Presumed overpricing and breach of contract in these concessions also come up.

Báez has been remanded in custody since April, 2016. In this case he has been granted house arrest but remains in prison because another court trying him for money-laundering set a multi-million bail which the businessman has been unable to pay until now.

Co-defendants include former Federal Planning minister Julio De Vido and former Public Works secretary José López, both of whom held their posts throughout the Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner presidencies between 2003 and 2015.

The trial, which is at the stage of witnesses giving testimony, was suspended under the judicial holiday decreed by the Supreme Court within the quarantine for coronavirus running in Argentina since March 20.

The Supreme Court lifted the holiday last week in line with a more flexible quarantine for the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA) concentrating 90 percent of infections.



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