Federal Judge Marcelo Martínez de Giorgi has acquitted ex-judge Norberto Oyarbide and interim Auditor-General Javier Fernández as co-recipients of the graft paid out to former Federal Planning Ministry official Roberto Baratta, within the context of the “Cuadernos” corruption notebooks case based on former Ministry chauffeur Oscar Centeno’s compilation of a decade of public works graft.
This acquittal (signed on the last day of 2019 just before this month’s court holiday) was not the only one to be reported recently – in the last days of 2019 Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio acquitted former Transport Minister Guillermo Dietrich, City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and others without even summoning them for questioning on charges of awarding overpriced contracts for the construction of the Paseo del Bajo underpass to Ángelo Calacaterra, a cousin of ex-president Mauricio Macri.
Martínez de Georgi’s ruling specified that Centeno’s notes alone could not be taken as proof of criminal action without supporting evidence – a potential precedent for dismantling all the “cuadernos” corruption trials.
The judge even went so far as to say: “The impressive multiplicity of apparently plausible information ... upon deeper analysis ... turns out to be a mirage.”
Oyarbide became a byword for a complacent judiciary as from 2010 when he acquitted the Kirchner presidential couple on embezzlement charges with a velocity similar to Bonadio in the Paseo del Bajo case a fortnight ago.
Part of Oyarbide’s testimony in the “cuadernos” case had consisted of detailing the pressures to which he was allegedly submitted in order to acquit the Kirchners.