Milagro Sala pictured at a court appearance.

The Supreme Court ruled today that controversial social leader Milagro Sala must not be under arrest in a common prison. The decision upholds a request from the Inter American Court of Human Rights, which had argued her already poor health could worsen should she continue being held in preemptive custody in Jujuy’s Alto Comedero Prison.

Judicial sources told Clarín the main reason for the IACHR’s request and posterior decision of the highest court in the country is that her mental state deteriorated during her time in prison. People close to Sala said she even attempted to commit suicide, and even though the Jujuy Province administration – whose governor, Gerardo Morales, is a long time political enemy of Sala – and its judiciary denied this was the case, it was enough to influence the decision of the highest court in the country.

Sala had already been granted house arrest in August, also following a request from the IACHR. Back then the court, which considers her arrest is arbitrary overall, had suggested to adopt “alternative measures” to her detention. However, a Jujut judge revoked the benefit less than two months later, arguing she had broken the imposed rules to her arrest by – allegedly – refusing to undergo medical checks. Now, the highest court unanimously determined she no longer be in a common prison, although rejected the argument about her arrest being arbitrary.

On January 16th 2016, Jujuy police arrested Milagro Sala for “instigating criminal activity and disorder” after setting up camp in front of the province’s government building demanding that the new government — led by Governor Gerardo Morales, a long-standing political enemy of Sala’s — continue providing funds to her organization, the Tupac Amaru.

Although she was cleared of the initial charges a few days after the events took place, Sala has remained in custody since. Further accusations — of fraud and extortion — were brought against her while she was in prison due to the original charges.

Basically, she has been accused of using the money that the State allocated to her organization to run a  patronage system (providing goods and services to “constituents” but with the condition of receiving guaranteed political loyalty in return) in the province.