Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her two children, Florencia and Máximo, have been exonerated in an investigation into allegations of money laundering, according to a decision released on Friday.
The heads of Federal Oral Court No. 5 (TOF5) ruled by a two-to-one majority to dismiss the case against members of the Kirchner family, a decision also extended to six other defendants. They are Fabián De Sousa, Cristóbal López, Lázaro Báez, Martín Báez, Osvaldo San Felipe and Alberto Leiva
One of the three judges, Adriana Palliotti, voted to reject the defense team’s request for dismissal and to go ahead with an oral trial.
The case, which brought together two inquiries known as “Hotesur” and “Los Sauces”, investigated allegedly excessive prices in public works tenders in Santa Cruz, the home province of the Kirchner family, and on the alleged payment of bribes via bogus room reservations at Kirchner family hotels. .
Prosecutors alleged that the hotels were used as vehicles for bribes for contracts awarded to Lázaro Báez, a business ally who paid massive hotel bills for rooms that were never occupied.
The court ruled that the case had no grounds for trial. The decision can still be appealed to the Federal Criminal Cassation Chamber.
A few days earlier, prosecutor Diego Velasco asked the TOF-5 to reject the defense’s request to dismiss the charges and demanded that the oral trial be called quickly. The accused’s defense team had called for the case to be closed a month earlier.
Last year, Argentina’s Anti-Corruption Office (OA, in its Spanish acronym) withdrew as the plaintiff in the case, causing an uproar in opposition circles.
He clarified that the follow-up of the case belonged more properly to the Financial Information Unit (UIF, in its Spanish acronym), specialized in money laundering and that its mandate was to track down present and future corruption rather than passed.
The court, by two votes to one, ruled on Friday that the evidence gathered after the judgment of the case, citing in particular an accountancy report, had shown that there had been no damage and, therefore, no offense.
“Even if the importance of the investigation of crimes against public administration cannot be ignored, it cannot be ignored that they must always be pursued with the law in hand and in full compliance with it,” he said. judgment of 375 pages.
The “Los Sauces” and “Hotesur” cases were initially considered two of the most complicated for the Vice President as they directly involved her children, who should also have gone to trial with her.
Fernández de Kirchner, 68, was exonerated in several investigations into alleged crimes and corruption during her two presidential terms (2007-2015). The vice president, who was elected to a list with President Alberto Fernández in 2019, still faces prosecution in five other cases.
This is the second time in just over a month that a court has dismissed criminal charges. The most recent is her acquittal in October of a case in which she was accused of having sought to conceal the identity of the perpetrators of the bombing of the Jewish community center AMIA in Buenos Aires in 1994, an attack which left 85 dead and 300 injured.
In this case, all the accused were also cleared, including the late former Minister of Foreign Affairs Héctor Timerman.
Earlier this year, she was also cleared in the so-called “dollar futures” case, in which she was accused of defrauding the government via sales on the dollar futures market.
The former president denies all the charges against her and says she was the victim of “political persecution” by the previous government led by Mauricio Macri.
– TIME / AFP
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