Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio will reportedly ask former President Cristina Kirchner be removed of parliamentary immunity as a result of her potential involvement in the corruption scandal known as the “notebooks of corruption,” which surfaced yesterday.
Kirchner has immunity as a sitting senator for the Unidad Ciudadana party.
However, the chances of this happening are pretty slim. Bonadio had already made the same request in December during the investigation of the AMIA cover-up case, in which she stands accused of covering up Iran’s alleged role in the 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing in exchange for trade deals.
In that case, only a minority of senators in the Upper House agreed to comply with the order because the reigning ideology of the Partido Justicialista, whose senators could help tip the scale against her, indicates that lawmakers should not be stripped from their immunity until being effectively sentenced in court. This stance has allowed former President Carlos Menem to nest in the Senate for 13 years now, despite having been found guilty of, among other crimes, selling arms to Croatia and Ecuador during his time in office.
The immunity prevents the former President from being sentenced to prison, but also from, among other things, have her house or office raided by police if a judge were to order so.
Cristina uses the term “lawfare” – a combination of law and warfare – to describe the attacks that she claims come from her political enemies, and has repeatedly indicated that Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio – in charge of this case too – is not impartial, but rather follows the current administration’s instructions. Kirchner is currently indicted in four different cases and has been charged in several others, but has not yet been sentenced in any.
Bonadio called the former President to testify on August 13 in relation to the notebooks scandal that exploded yesterday and sent shockwaves throughout Argentina.
She can decline to attend or, as she usually does, show up but refuse to answer questions and instead deliver a written statement detailing her point of view on the accusations. Based on this, and the evidence already available, Bonadio will decide whether to press charges against her.
In radio interviews this morning, Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli said we will only know next week if the former President will be investigated as head of an “illicit association.” If found guilty, she could get a prison sentence ranging between five and 20 years.
So far, Cristina Kirchner has remained silent and refused to talk to reporters.