Cristina Kirchner is accused of leading corruption matrix in Argentina

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Argentina’s vice president, Cristina Kirchner, was accused by prosecutors on Monday of creating and leading an “extraordinary matrix of corruption” alongside her late husband, Néstor Kirchner, during the period in which they ruled the country. .

In a process that investigates irregularities in the concession of public works, the Argentine Public Prosecutor’s Office said it had proven the existence of an illicit association, between 2003 and 2015, which had the heads of state at the top of its operation.

According to prosecutor Diego Luciani, the alleged illicit acts began under the government of Néstor Kirchner —who presided over Argentina between 2003 and 2007— and continued during Cristina’s term (2007-2015).

The trial, which began in May 2019 and was suspended in 2020 because of the pandemic, opened the pleadings phase on Monday. The current vice president participated by videoconference.

The Public Ministry will expose the allegations in nine hearings scheduled for the next three weeks. Then it will be the defense’s turn to speak. If she is convicted, Cristina Kirchner could lose her political rights.

The process, which includes another 12 involved, seeks to determine whether there was a direction in the concession of public works in the province of Santa Cruz, in southern Argentina, considered a political stronghold for the Kirchners.

According to the Argentine newspaper La Nación, prosecutors laid out their allegations for eight hours, seeking to prove that the Kirchners made businessman Lázaro Báez the biggest beneficiary of public works in the province. The indictment says that the former banker received overpriced money from the corruption scheme and returned it to the couple through the family’s hotel business.

According to prosecutor Luciani, Báez acted as a partner to Néstor Kirchner and his wife, who would be the leaders of an “extraordinary matrix of corruption”. The works, he said, have generated immeasurable losses for the State and remain unfinished.

However, an audit carried out at the request of the Justice by Vialidad Nacional, an entity linked to the Ministry of Public Works, stated that the work had been completed.

The FIU (Financial Information Unit) had also considered it irresponsible to advance the prosecution, disregarding the prosecution’s arguments about the existence of crimes of fraudulent administration and illicit association.

Current Argentine President Alberto Fernández, who was chief of staff in the Kirchner administrations, testified personally in the case in February and backed the vice president in saying that there was never any arbitrary distribution of funds.

Cristina is currently a defendant in five cases, although several cases for alleged crimes that occurred during her two presidential terms have been filed.

As she has done in other cases, she defends herself, according to the newspaper Clarín, saying she is a victim of lawfare (legal persecution) started after the government of Mauricio Macri (2015-2019).

In October of last year, the case in which Cristina was accused of covering up those responsible for the 1994 attack on the Jewish association Amia, in Buenos Aires, which took place in 1994, which left 85 dead and 300 injured, was closed.

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