Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio ruled today that former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, along with 11 other high-profile Kirchnerite officials and associates who have been indicted, will stand trial for allegedly covering up Iran’s role in the 1994 AMIA Jewish community center attack in exchange for trade deals.
Among the other accused are: former Legal and Technical Secretary Carlos Zannini, former Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, former Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI) head Oscar Parrilli and former Deputy Andrés Larroque, as well as controversial social leader Luis D’Elía, former Quebracho picket group leader Fernando Esteche and Jorge “Yussuf” Khalil.
The former President had requested the judge move the case to this procedural instance less than two weeks ago, arguing his rulings were politically motivated and therefore the court in charge of deciding her fate will clear her from all charges.
In fact, in her first speech as a Senator – for the current term, since she has held the post before – she repeatedly used the term ‘lawfare‘ (a portmanteu created by combining the words “law” and “warfare”) to describe the reason for her legal troubles.
Bonadio’s decision does not come as a surprise. It is only a mere formality, Federal Prosecutor Eduardo Taiano is the official who had the ability to send the case to trial by requesting the judge do so. Bonadio, then, simply had to comply with the request.
Now, a court comprised of three judges will determine if the evidence gathered in the investigation is compelling enough to convict her and the other defendants of covering up Iran’s role in the 1994 AMIA Jewish community center attack – in which 85 people died and more than 150 were severely injured, an attack the judge in the case declared to be against humanity – in exchange for trade deals, like late prosecutor Alberto Nisman had accused her of before dying.
What makes this even more controversial is the fact that 28 Border Patrol analysts (the Argentine Gendarmería) have recently concluded that the late prosecutor Nisman was “murdered in cold blood,” and that the crime scene had been tampered with in order to make it look like he had committed suicide.
It is worth remembering that Bonadio had indicted the former president for treason, but after Fernández de Kirchner appealed, a superior court determined to modify the charges to the alleged cover up. The judge had also ordered that she be put in preemptive prison, but her post as a Senator provides her with congressional immunity, and most of her peers have already made it clear that they will not vote in favor of stripping her from it.
This is the third case for which Fernández de Kirchner will face a court. The first one is the so-called “future dollars” case, while the second investigates irregularities in the awarding of public works contracts to the Austral Group company, owned by Lázaro Báez, a businessman considered to be her associate, in the Santa Cruz province.