Argentine Vice President Cristina Kirchner has again declared her innocence in a case in which she is accused of corruption and has called for an investigation into the prosecutors handling the case. In late August, they proposed 12 years in prison and the loss of Cristina’s political rights.
The speech of the former president this Friday (23) formally ended her defense in this case, which is now under evaluation by the Justice. A verdict is expected in the coming months.
Cristina is accused of leading a corruption scheme in the concession of public works during her administration and that of her predecessor and husband, Néstor Kirchner (2003-2015). According to the Public Ministry, both would have favored businessman Lázaro Báez, who is also a defendant, in contracts involving roads and public roads in the province of Santa Cruz – of which Kirchner was governor.
The current vice president appeared in court this Friday as her own lawyer, at the end of the defense presented by one of her lawyers, Carlos Beraldi.
“We cannot believe the way in which this process was carried out. I want to make a formal request to this court to take the testimony of all those involved and expose the lies of the prosecutors, which will be contrasted with the documentary evidence brought by my defense,” he said. She added that she will start a lawsuit against prosecutors Diego Luciani and Sergio Mola.
Cristina also stated that the cause is illogical, because when her husband came to power, Argentina was going through “a tremendous crisis”. By that argument, it would not make sense that her main concern would be to overprice works in her province. Néstor Kirchner ruled the country between 2003 and 2007, shortly after the political and economic crisis of 2001, and died in 2010.
The vice president also said that if she was the leader of an illicit association, she could not be charged by prosecutor Luciani either. “That’s because it was I who authorized him to be a prosecutor, and the facts arising from an illicit association are illegal.”
She referred to the attempt on her life on the 1st, pointing out that Luciani’s request for conviction was what “caused a circus to be set up” in front of her residence in Recoleta. The attack, carried out by Brazilian Fernando Andrés Sabag Maciel, took place after days of camp supporters and protests outside the building.
And he criticized the Argentine justice, accusing those who commit major crimes in the country with impunity. “The judges who judge me play padel [jogo de raquetes] with [o ex-presidente Maurício] Macri. As well as who I consider to be the leader of the ‘cotton candy gang'”, she said, referring to the nickname of the group accused of the attack. Cristina maintains that the four would be linked to allies of her successor in the business world.
Before the vice-president’s speech, Beraldi stated that all bids had passed an expert examination and were legitimate. “The 51 works were approved in accordance with the rules of the province of Santa Cruz. It is not even a presidential attribute to carry out these procedures,” she said.
Lázaro Báez has already been sentenced to 12 years in prison for money laundering, but he is also facing this process, along with 13 other people.
Even if the sentence confirms Cristina’s conviction, she has immunity for being vice president and leader of the Senate. Congress would have to approve his impeachment for the penalty to be applied. Next year, however, there is an election in Argentina. Although Peronism has not yet defined its candidate, it is possible that she will run for the presidency or the Senate — if she wins, she would also retain immunity.