Friday, July 10, 2020

ARGENTINA | 06-06-2019 20:17

Judge orders Fernández de Kirchner stand trial for alleged public works graft

Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio demands vice-presidential hopeful be remanded in custody, before slapping an 11-billion-peso lien on her assets.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner found herself facing a new trial for public works corruption on Thursday, ordered by Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio, who demanded that the vice-presidential hopeful be remanded in custody, before slapping an 11-billion-peso lien on her assets.

The former president, 66, is also accused of receiving bribes in exchange for highway toll concessions.

A federal appeals court must now confirm the trial and set a date before it can go ahead.

It's another piece of bad legal news for Fernández de Kirchner, who is seeking the vice-presidency in October's elections on a ticket headed by her former Cabinet chief Alberto Fernández. In total, she potentially faces a total of 13 such trials, of which the first (under Federal Judge Julián Ercolini for Santa Cruz public works corruption) began last May 21, with weekly hearings every Monday.

This is not the first time  that Bonadio has ordered Fernández de Kirchner be held behind bars, but the call is a dead letter since the Buenos Aires Province senator (since 2017) enjoys parliamentary immunity. In six of her 13 trials her preventive arrest has been requested.  

Fernández de Kirchner is far from the only defendant in this mega-trial with a total of 156 businessmen and ex-officials (including former Federal Planning minister Julio De Vido) in the dock.

The charges are based on last August’s "cuadernos" (notebooks) corruption exposé  which allegedly chronicles the circulation of at least US$160 million in bribes from construction sector businessmen bidding for tenders during the presidencies of Néstor and Cristina Kirchner between 2003 and 2015.

The former president denies all the charges against her and says they are the result of a campaign of "political and judicial persecution" against her and members of her family and previous governments.


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