Federal judge Claudio Bonadio has died, officials have confirmed.
The controversial judge, who had been in charge of Federal Criminal and Correctional Court No. 11 since 1994, died at 6.30am Tuesday morning at his home in the Belgrano neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, where he was receiving palliative care.
Bonadio had requested an extended leave of absence after the end of the Judiciary’s summer break. According to Perfil, the government of Alberto Fernández was looking to prepare a “graceful exit” for the controversial judge, who had already had his retirement approved, though he was still working on several high profile cases, including the infamous 'Cuadernos' corruption notebooks probe, which has Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner at the centre of the investigation.
A large police operation was quickly mounted in the block where he lived, preventing reporters from approaching the house.
The family decided not to hold a wake. He will be buried at noon in Pilar.
Federal judge Sebastián Casanello will replace the late Claudio Bonadio in Federal Court 11 in the Federal Capital until next March.
Bonadio was able to draw attention to his work in recent years, given the impact of the cases he investigated. He not only prosecuted the current vice-president of the nation, sending her to oral trial, he also led high profile cases such as the 2012 Once rail tragedy, irregularities in the AMIA Jewish community centre bombing probe and money-laundering accusations involving the Teamsters union led by veteran union leader Hugo Moyano.
On Saturday, May 4, 2019, Bonadio underwent surgery at the Fleni Institute to remove a tumour. Confirmed by anatomopathological tests to be a glioblastoma multiforme, he was diagnosed with a very aggressive type of cancer that is difficult to treat and in some cases has no cure.
It is the most common of all malignant brain tumours and, in the past, caused the death of Senator John McCain and Hunter Biden, the son of former US vice-president (and current US presidential candidate) Joe Biden.
"It’s born in the glia, the brain's connective tissue, which gives it structure," José Lastiri, president of the Argentine Association of Clinical Oncology, told Perfil.
"It’s rare, there are two cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year, but very malignant," he added.
In the case of Judge Bonadio, it is known that in early 2019 he began to have problems with his right eye.
Glioblastoma multiforme usually occurs in adults, aged 40 to 70, and is more common in men.
Bonadio was a controversial figure in Comodoro Py and beyond.
There can be few doubts that his sights were set on Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, with the “notebooks” case standing out. It was an extensive investigation which relied on an unusual amount of plea bargains and hundred of defendants, including the allegation that the sitting vice-president acted as the "head" of an illicit association while in office, aming to defraud he state through kickbacks tied to public work projects.
However, it wasn’t the first legal clash between Fernandez de Kirchner and Bonadio, as the judge had already prosecuted her for charges related to the so-called "dollars futures" case, the alleged cover-up of the alleged perpetrators of the AMIA case, in the context of the signing of the 2013 Memorandum of understanding with Iran, and the “Los Sauces” corruption case probing alleged corruption involving members of the Kirchner family.
All these cases have been signed off by Bonadio, sent to trial and are currently awaiting dates.
Federal Judge Bonadio had also handled other high-profile cases, particularly the Once train tragedy, which resulted in the eventual conviction of former Federal Planning minister, Julio De Vido, and other ex-Kirchnerite officials.
Other consequential cases handled by Bonadio included the investigation into the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre, from which he was ejected accused of impartiality and potential cover-up, and the so-called “contraofensiva montonera” ("Montonero counter-offensive"), where several members of the organisation ended up dead under the orders of the brutal 1976-1983 military dictatorship.
Former vice-president Julio Cobos was one of the first to comment on the death of the judge: "I regret the death of the federal judge, Claudio Bonadio, who was going through a very complex illness. My condolences to his family.”
"We regret the death of Judge Claudio Bonadio. [...] One of our unwavering values, as Juntos por el Cambio, is to continue working for a justice system that is autonomous from power and independent, the balance that every system needs," said the president of the Civic Coalition (Coalición Cívica), Maximiliano Ferraro.
However, Gregorio Dalbón, Fernández de Kirchner's personal attorney, considered that with the death of the federal judge "a very dark part of Justice is dying.”
" [The] arbitrariness, the creative law is dying [with him]. He was the US Embassy's judge, the one who executed [the policy of] lawfare so that Cristina would end up in jail", Dalbón alleged.
Fernández de Kirchner reportedly found out about Bonadio’s death from Dalbón, the attorney noted, adding the vice-president made no immediate comment on the matter.