Friday, September 25, 2020

ARGENTINA | 03-07-2019 10:48

Tension over espionage allegations reignites as Ramos Padilla summons Stornelli

The summons comes as former spy Jaime Stiuso on Tuesday requested to give evidence in the trial, alleging he too had been the "victim" of Marcelo D'Alessio's alleged illegal espionage.

Judge Alejo Ramos Padilla will again try to take testimony from Federal Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli in his investigation into an alleged underground espionage scheme with deep roots inside the country's Judiciary, politics and journalism.

It is the sixth time Ramos Padilla has summoned Stornelli to testify. Stornelli, arguably the country's most high-profile prosecutor, leads numerous investigations into alleged corruption during the previous Kirchner administrations. He previously justified his refusal to testify on the grounds Ramos Padilla is operating politically in favour of the Kirchner movement.

For his part, Ramos Padilla's investigation centres on a cache of evidence, some now publicly available, that suggests Stornelli partook in an illicit espionage and extortion scheme using a frontman, Marcelo D'Alessio.

The summons comes as former spy Jaime Stiuso on Tuesday requested to give evidence in the trial, alleging he too had been the "victim" of D'Alessio's alleged illegal operations. Stiuso is a highly questioned character in Argentine political and judicial circles, whose profile was raised following the mysterious 2015 death of special prosecutor of the alleged AMIA bombing cover-up Alberto Nisman.

"Since I left public service [as an agent for the intelligence service] in late 2014, I have been the victim of constant intelligence operations which have been revealed in the form of media reports or judicial complaints", Stiuso said in his presentation to the court.

D'Alessio is in jail under a preventative arrest warrant. The prosecution alleges Stornelli used D'Alessio's services to extort witnesses and defendants in cases related to alleged Kirchner-era corruption.

Stornelli and his lawyers argue Ramos Padilla is leading a plot to undermine the prosecutor's work in investigating alleged corruption during the Néstor and Cristina Kirchner governments, a claim the judge from Dolores district denies.

The country's Prosecutor General's Office is currently assessing an in abstenia ruling against Stornelli, which a federal court in Mar del Plata and an Appeals Court have upheld.


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