A Federal Court of Appeals in Chaco confirmed the indictment of Cambiemos Deputy Aída Ayala in the case investigating her for alleged unlawful association and money laundering during her tenure as the Mayor of Chaco’s capital, Resistencia.
What’s worse, the court confirmed that the Lower House deputy must be held in pre-trial arrest – it concluded she could tamper with the investigation – and requested she be stripped of the congressional immunity she enjoys as a Cambiemos deputy.
Ayala was mayor of Resistencia for 12 years until 2015, when she competed in the gubernatorial elections and lost to Domingo Peppo. However, she went on to work at the national Executive Branch, as the Interior Ministry’s Secretary of Municipal Affairs. She left that post on December 10 last year, to take her seat as a national deputy.
According to the investigation, Ayala, along with other associates, created private companies in order to award them public contracts by using their influence in the administration of Resistencia. Contracts that, predictably, were artificially inflated. The most relevant case involves a company that was paid AR $ 500 million to collect the city’s garbage until 2023.
The deputy had been indicted in May by Federal Judge Zunilda Niremperger, who also requested Ayala be stripped from her immunity. However, the deputy requested to be exempted from prison while the court of appeals reviewed the ruling, something its members granted. Now, the court has confirmed the first instance judge’s decision. Both the indictment and the decision to put her in pre-trial arrest.
As a result, the Cambiemos commission in the Lower House tasked with dealing with these issues will have to determine her fate, as the other parties are set to vote in favor of the request.
Considering that in 2017 the caucus voted in favor of stripping former Planning Minister during the Kirchner administrations and then-deputy Julio De Vido when he faced an identical request in the context of the so-called “Río Turbio” case, its members will either have to stick to the precedent they set, or risk having their moral integrity questioned.