Germán Moldes, prosecutor before a Federal Court of Appeals, requested that the indictment of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in the so-called “notebooks scandal” be confirmed. He also supported the pre-trial arrest order issued by his counterparts in a lower court.
In case you forgot, the former President stands accused of being the leader of a wide-ranging corruption scheme dedicated to embezzling government funds through the awarding of over-inflated government contracts.
Moldes upheld previous requests from the lower court judicial officials who were in charge of investigating the infamous notebooks kept by Oscar Centeno, the former personal chauffeur of Kirchner-era Deputy Planning Minister Roberto Baratta, as well as the further evidence that came to light as a result of plea deals reached by former public officials and business leaders involved in the case.
Prosecutors Carlos Stornelli and Carlos Rívolo, and Judge Claudio Bonadio had already requested that the former President be put in pre-trial arrest. According to pundits, however, Bonadio is waiting for the Court of Appeals that oversees his actions to confirm the legality of his argument before requesting the Senate strip her from the congressional immunity she enjoys as a senator.
The judge intends for his request to hold the weight of two federal courts and their respective prosecutors, considering that several caucuses in the Senate holding more than half of the senate members have already made it clear they are not willing to strip their peers of immunity unless there is a firm sentence against them: that is, that they have been tried and sentenced by a first instance court, an appeals court, the cassation court and even the Supreme Court, should the case make it there and the Court accept it.
The former President – as well as the other accused in the same procedural situation – currently stands indicted in the case, accused of 913 different corruption charges. And since legal times in Argentina are extremely long, an eventual firm sentence against her is still several years away.
Kirchner reacted to the news by reiterating she is being subjected to political persecution, and assuring this particular request was made with the goal of covering up the political defeat that having to backtrack on announced increases on gas bills represented.
Después de que frenamos el tarifazo de las 24 cuotas del gas por la devaluación, responden pidiendo mi detención. Muy obvios. Se nota demasiado.
— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) October 11, 2018
The request comes at a time of tension within Cambiemos over this particular subject. Last week, National Deputy and co-founder of Cambiemos, Elisa “Lilita” Carrió, threatened to break with the coalition after Justice Minister Germán Garavano said in an interview that it was “never good for a country” to have a president be held in pre-trial arrest.
Carrió took to Twitter and directly targeted Garavano, saying his statements were a “shame for the republic and the division of powers,” speculating also with the possibility that he was justifying the scandalous acquittal of former President Carlos Menem last week, in the case in which he was accused of illegally selling arms to Croatia en Ecuador while in office. “If this is the case, it is feasible to request his impeachment,” her tweet read.
Although the scandal seemed to have faded, Carrió brought it back to the limelight this morning when, in an event she shared with President Mauricio Macri, said she would make amends with him once “he removed Garavano.”