Ibar Esteban Pérez Corradi, the man accused of being the brains behind the notorious 2008 General Rodríguez triple murder, was arrested on Sunday in Brazil after being on the run for four years.
Why should you care? The triple murder of General Rodríguez — which we will get into later — is rather controversial because some speculate that it could reveal ties between Kirchnerite politicians and drug-trafficking. Basically, investigations found that the murder victims had illicit dealings with drug cartels trafficking ephedrine, and some say the the illegal business provided funds for former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s 2007 presidential campaign. Also, as you recall, back in January, the story made headlines in local media when the three murderers escaped maximum security prison (they were eventually apprehended).
Back to Sunday: Pérez Corradi was arrested in the Brazilian city of Foz de Iguazu in a joint operation carried out by the Argentine Federal Investigation Agency (AFI) and Brazilian police. He was then taken back to Paraguay and placed under strict surveillance. Why was he taken to Paraguay if he’s a suspect in Argentina? Two reasons:
- He confessed he had illegally entered Brazil via the Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este (so for legal reasons, he was taken back to the country he came from.)
- He also faces charges in Paraguay. He’s been accused of forging public documents, as it was found he used a fake identity to live there during most of the time he was fleeing Argentine authorities. If tried and found guilty in Paraguay, he could face up to five years in prison.
Immediately after the arrest, Federal Judge María Servini de Cubría, who has been investigating the triple murder since 2008, requested Corradi be extradited to the country to question him. Paraguayan Judge Julián López, who is investigating the forgery charges in his country, has to decide whether he grants the request.
Things seemed to go smoothly for Servini de Cubría yesterday: Pérez Corradi said he was willing to go back to Argentina to prove his innocence, even though he feared for his safety.
However, Corradi appears to have had an abrupt change of heart and today refused to be extradited. The reason? He says he doesn’t trust the Argentine judiciary to carry out a fair investigation because former government officials could be implicated in the case. Although the people Pérez Corradi could potentially implicate are no longer in office, they remain powerful and have a lot of influence, which is probably why Pérez Corradi is afraid.
“Yesterday he said one thing and today he says another,” Judge Julián López told press. “He said there are not enough guarantees for a fair due process in Argentina and that his life is in danger because former authorities are being investigated in the case,” he added.
Judge López clarified that Argentine authorities now have 45 days to send all the necessary documentation to justify Pérez Corradi’s extradition. López will then analyze the request and decide whether to grant it or not.
Some say Pérez Corradi’s refusal to be extradited could also be a strategy: it could allow him to negotiate better terms with the current administration regarding his arrest on Argentine soil.
Members of President Mauricio Macri’s administration expect Corradi to declare under the Repentance Law — currently in effect in drug-trafficking cases — that would allow him to provide sensitive information on the case in exchange for a lighter sentence. The goal is to find out if any members of the former Kirchner administration had ties to the ephedrine-trafficking business.
“Argentina was overrun by ephedrine. When you know this was known by the former administration and officials didn’t report it, you can see there is something that goes beyond Pérez Corradi. We’ll see if he accepts being the last link in the chain or if he goes higher up,” said Security Minister Patricia Bullrich in an interview with Radio La Red.
In case you’ve been wondering why Pérez Corradi was on the run for four years, here’s why: the triple murder of General Rodríguez (or “triple crime” as it’s known in Spanish) involved the murder of three young pharmaceutical businessmen: Sebastián Forza, Damián Ferrón and Leopoldo Bina. The three men were found to have had illicit dealings with drug cartels, specifically trafficking ephedrine (which is used for manufacturing methamphetamine.) Brothers Martín and Cristian Lanatta and with Víctor Schallici were arrested for having murdered the three men and were sentenced to life in prison. Pérez Corradi had managed to avoid capture in 2012 and remained at large until Tuesday.