National Deputy Aída Ayala (Cambiemos) announced last weekend that she would surrender the parliamentary immunity her post grants her, after a Federal Appeals Court in Chaco upheld a first instance ruling and confirmed her indictment and pre-trial arrest in the case where she stands accused of embezzlement and money laundering.
Ayala had been indicted in May, but requested to be exempted from prison while the decision of Federal Judge Zunilda Niremperger was reviewed by the Court of Appeals. However, knowing her peers would vote to strip her from her immunity as a result of this decision, she decided to do it herself. She had precedent: former Planning Minister during the Kirchner administrations, Julio De Vido, went through the same process last year, after a judge and a court of appeals both ordered his pre-trial arrest in the so-called “Río Turbio” case.
Having voted in favor of a request concerning a member of the opposition, the Cambiemos caucus would have risked looking hypocritical before the country, had it taken an opposite stance aimed at protecting one of their own.
Ayala was the mayor of Chaco’s capital, Resistencia, for 12 years. During this time, she allegedly created private companies under her administration to launder money for her and give her private contracts.
In a statement to the parliament, Ayala said that the allegations against her had no base in reality, and that she has nothing to hide. Ayala then went on to state that she will not use her immunity as a deputy member to shield herself from prison.