Thousands in Argentina take to the streets to defend embattled vice president

BUENOS AIRES, Aug 27 (Reuters) – Thousands of supporters of Argentina’s former president and current vice president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner took to the streets in her defense on Saturday, days after two prosecutors sought a 12-year sentence years in prison and a ban from office for alleged corruption during his government.

Prosecutors charged Fernandez de Kirchner on Monday with defrauding the state and participating in a scheme to embezzle public funds while he was president between 2007 and 2015.

Saturday’s largest protest took place outside the vice president’s house in Buenos Aires’ elegant Recoleta neighborhood, where police set up fencing early in the morning in a bid to prevent a large gathering.

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In the afternoon, the demonstrators, who claim that Fernandez de Kirchner is the victim of judicial persecution and that the fences were erected by the opposition mayor of Buenos Aires out of provocation, broke down the barriers and clashed with the police. Hydrant trucks tried to disperse the crowd with water.

According to local media, five police officers were injured and four protesters were arrested.

“Today I woke up with the corner of my house literally besieged (…) They want to ban absolutely peaceful and joyful demonstrations of love and support, which take place in the face of the already undeniable persecution of justice “, Fernandez de Kirchner said in a tweet.

In a show of support, President Alberto Fernandez shared the message on his own Twitter account.

Fernandez de Kirchner leads the toughest wing of the center-left Peronist coalition that has ruled Argentina since late 2019.

The verdict and potential sentence will be decided by a judge, which could take months, although Fernandez de Kirchner could appeal any decision, possibly delaying the final verdict for years.

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Reporting by Lucila Sigal

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