In the early hours of this morning, ex-Mayor and massista councilman of La Banda, Santiago de Estero, was finally captured and flown back to his hometown after nearly three weeks on the run with his girlfriend through various luxury estates around Argentina, on charges of aggravated rape with sexual intercourse,
Héctor Eduardo “Chabay” Ruiz was finally captured by a joint effort from Buenos Aires’ very own Grupo Halcón (Buenos Aires Provincial Brigade) and the Santiago provincial police, who confirmed at 7 PM last night that the ex-mayor was indeed camped out in a Parque Leloir estate, in Ituzaingó (in the Buenos Aires province). Allegedly he had spent a leisurely Sunday lounging outside by the pool, no doubt still celebrating the New Year/flaws of the Argentine Judiciary system.
The police waited overnight for a search warrant from Santiago Judge Raúl Santucho (who also gave the initial order for his arrest in mid-December), before finally storming the residence in the early morning. The former mayor and alleged rapist was found by the authorities hiding under the bed, bedecked only in some sandals and a swimming trunk. His holiday cut short, Ruiz requested that the police inform his ex-wife, children and girlfriend of the situation. With him were a lawyer and retired Federal police officer, who has also been detained.
The investigation began well over a year ago, when a 38-year old woman was reportedly raped in the politician’s own office during a job interview in May 2013, while Ruiz was still mayor and a staunch kirchnerista. In August of that year, another woman was allegedly raped in the same office. Raúl Litvak, Secretary of Public Services, ex-member of the Tribunal of Municipal Accounts and Chabay’s right-hand man, recently confessed that this woman had been paid off so that she wouldn’t talk, “on the orders of Ruiz and Raúl Sosa [Ruiz’ Economy Secretary], they gave me the money personally.” Subtle diversion of the blame, there.
Prosecution lawyer Francesco Cavallotti is furious at how the process has been managed: it was kept secret for over a year and a half, and its exposure in November was followed by a series of threats linked to “Chabay” himself. He denounces the practice of political affiliations protecting criminals and obstructing the process of the law.
Raúl Litvak isn’t the only one who’s jumping the sinking ship. Pablo Mirolo, Chabay’s replacement as mayor (another massista) along with the rest of the Frente Renovador are distancing themselves from their old compatriot. No wonder: over his 25-year reign as mayor of La Banda, Ruiz has amassed 3 accusations of sexual abuse and 2 of extramarital affiliation, not to mention complaints of workplace harassment. His girlfriend, Anahí Campos, who is nearly three decades his junior, doesn’t seem too bothered. When detained at a Pinamar luxury chalet eight days ago, where the couple had been staying, she claimed Ruiz had fled to Brazil, sparking an international arrest warrant. She now faces charges for false testimony along with aiding and abetting.
It’s not the first time Ruiz left his lover out in the cold: after the initial arrest warrant he fled the country house in which he was hiding by a car from the back while his girlfriend was stopped up front by the police. In leaked phone conversations to his chauffeur, “Juanca,” Chabay referred to his 24-year-old partner as “la nena” and criticized Mirolo and Sosa for “wasting time with Massa” instead of “making trouble” in Santiago. On Saturday Mirolo attended a massista meeting in Pinamar, directed by presidential hopeful Sergio Massa. You can imagine Chabay gritting his teeth in his chalet.
Ruiz arrived in Santiago de Estero on a private flight at 11.55 and is being held back home in La Banda. Things aren’t looking too good for him.