Once again, a crusade against Federal Judge Sebastián Casanello — the judge overseeing the Lázaro Báez Case implicating important Kirchnerite public officials in a massive money laundering scheme — is being spearheaded by Lázaro Báez, the man at the center of the case, and his family on the grounds that Casanello is not acting impartially.
Leandro Báez, one of Lázaro’s sons, yesterday presented a written statement requesting that Federal Judge Sebastián Casanello be removed as the judge from the case. He argues that the investigation is solely being focused on his father in order to protect former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
“Casanello has taken the investigation in a specific direction just to avoid including officials from the former Kirchner administration and Cristina Kirchner herself, to the detriment of the Báez family,” reads a part of the written statement presented before the chamber.
In fact, Casanello was indicted in 2013 for allegedly doing exactly that: “It’s a mixture of things that make us doubt judges’ impartiality. Even though [Leandro] Báez has not been indicted, he had his property seized. We are saying there needs to be impartiality,” said one of Leandro Báez’s lawyers, Santiago Viola, in an interview with TN.
Leandro Báez’s lawyers are trying to prove that Cristina and Casanello met in order to show there’s a link between the parties.
In yesterday’s written statement, Leandro’s lawyers based their argument on different articles from media outlets that mention this alleged meeting — although with no conclusive evidence — and pretty shady “information from an anonymous source” consisting of documents allegedly proving both Casanello and Báez’s cellphones were active in an area close to the Olivos presidential residence on August 6, 2015, when Cristina was still in office.
But Leandro’s written statement clarifies that the information “might not be truthful.”
So it’s all pretty shaky.
Casanello has been nicknamed Judge “The Turtle” (La Tortuga) because he has been in charge of the Lázaro Báez Case, which is also known as the “K Money Trail,” since 2013.
Virtually unknown until a few weeks ago, Leandro Báez got fiercely involved in the case after Casanello ordered the federal police to seize his assets, even though he wasn’t a formal party in the case (meaning he didn’t have anything to do with the investigation then). Ever since, he has pointed all his legal guns at Casanello, who he considers to be the main threat to his father and brother Martín, both preemptively in jail since April.
The Chamber will hold a hearing on Monday to analyze the request to remove Casanello.
Leandro was not the only Báez to try to improve the family’s chances in court yesterday: Lázaro met yesterday with the Federal Chamber that oversees the activities of Casanello to “explain his personal situation.” The meeting, which took place in the Federal Courthouses of Comodoro Py, lasted 20 minutes and its content is yet to be known.
The Lázaro Báez Case, involves money being allegedly laundered through government contracts — under the administrations of former President Néstor Kirchner and Cristina — given to Báez’s construction company, Austral Constructions, which the company billed at significantly higher rates than what the services provided cost — i.e. corruption proceeds. The case is particularly relevant because, as some have claimed, the people involved in the alleged money laundering activities could not have gone under the radar without help from high places. Whether or not Cristina was involved remains to be seen.