Argentina | Former President Cristina Kirchner on trial again for fraud

(Buenos Aires) Argentine justice reopened a new page on Monday against former Peronist president Cristina Kirchner, with the appeal trial against her conviction at the end of 2022 to a prison sentence for fraud and corruption.

Twelve years in prison, instead of the six years – as well as a lifetime ineligibility – pronounced at first instance, were requested at the opening of the appeal trial, which should last until the beginning of April, with a verdict expected about a month later.

President from 2007 to 2015, then influential vice-president from 2019 to 2023, Cristina Kirchner, 70, was convicted at the end of 2022 for “fraudulent administration” to the detriment of the State, in a trial on public contracts in her political stronghold of Santa Cruz (south), during his presidential terms.

Several appeals, including a final one before the Supreme Court, should however not render a possible sentence effective for years.

Cristina Kirchner has always denied any wrongdoing, and denounced, throughout the procedure launched in 2019, a “political-judicial persecution”, by judges according to her used by the right-wing opposition, in order to “ban” her politically.

The trial opened Monday – in the absence of Mme Kirchner – follows appeals by the prosecution, who are asking for a heavier sentence, but also by the defense, who are calling for acquittal.

Among the dozen co-defendants retried, eight (including a construction contractor, former managers of the road construction organization) were sentenced in 2022.

“A system of corruption was built in Santa Cruz to manipulate public works,” prosecutor Mario Villar said on Monday, who also requires the conviction of Kirchner as “head of an illicit organization”, from which she was acquitted in 2022.

In the wake of this judgment, the former head of state and figure of the Argentine left announced a political withdrawal, affirming that she would not be a candidate for any mandate in the general elections of October 2023.

Mme Kirchner has been indicted in half a dozen proceedings since her presidency, then obtained several dismissals. But at the end of 2023 justice returned to two of them, cases of money laundering and obstruction of justice, opening the prospect of new potential trials in the future.

source site-59