Cristina Fernández will begin her defense tomorrow in the oral trial for public works

Sunday, September 18, 2022 | 7:00 p.m.

The Vice President of the Nation, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, will begin her defense tomorrow in the oral trial for the public work awarded to the businessman Lázaro Báez in which prosecutors Diego Luciani and Sergio Mola requested that he be sentenced to 12 years in prison and lifelong disqualification to hold public office. Her defense will begin her arguments that will last throughout the week.

The hearing will begin at 8 a.m. His lawyers, Alberto Beraldi and Ary Llernovoy, announced that it will be virtual through the videoconference system (it will be broadcast on the Youtube channel of the Federal Oral Court 2) and will use the days that the Federal Oral Court 2 gave each defense to exercise their pleadings. Thus, the defense will expose tomorrow, Tuesday and Friday.

The expectation is set on whether the Vice President will use any of the audiences to speak. As she is a lawyer she can do it but for that she must ask the court to register her that way. A similar case was that of former President Fernando De la Rúa, who was his own lawyer in the oral trial of the bribery case in the Senate in which he was acquitted.

Cristina Kirchner’s will be the sixth defense to plead of the 13 defendants in the trial. Former Minister of Federal Planning Julio De Vido, former Undersecretary of Public Works Abel Fatala and former Santa Cruz Highway officials Héctor Garro, Mauricio Collareda and Raúl Daruich have already requested their acquittal. After the Vice President, Báez will allege. The Prosecutor’s Office requested conviction for the 13 defendants.

In the case, the alleged irregularities are judged in the 51 public works that from 2003 to 2015, during the governments of Néstor and Cristina Kirchner, received the Báez companies for the province of Santa Cruz. In their arguments, the prosecutors understood that most of them were not finished and that all of them were collected. In addition to the fact that a series of regulations for its granting were not complied with and that the tenders were set up to be won by Báez, a businessman friend of Néstor Kichner who set up his flagship company “Austral Construcciones” days before Kirchner’s inauguration in 2003 as president of the Nation.

“Today more than ever society demands justice and you, gentlemen judges, are in charge of giving each one what corresponds. An exemplary ruling may be the first step in restoring society’s trust in institutions. Our only goal was to seek the truth. Gentlemen judges, this is the moment. It is corruption or justice. And you have the decision,” Luciani said.

The defenses in their pleadings refuted the accusation and had strong criticism for the prosecutors. Cristina Kirchner’s defense is expected to follow the same line. The expectation in court is focused on what the Vice President’s lawyers answer about what the Prosecutor’s Office called the “plan to clean everything.”

For this, they relied on the messages found on the cell phone of former Secretary of Public Works José López, who was kidnapped in June 2016 when he was arrested in a General Rodríguez convent with nine million dollars. Luciani maintained that in these messages he realizes that days before Cristina Kichner left the government in 2015, the payment of 537 million to Báez’s companies was planned for works that had not been completed and the dismissal of personnel and the closure of the companies.

For that, the prosecutors showed that López and Báez had meetings with Cristina Kirchner in the fifth of Olivos and in Santa Cruz. And then they communicated with each other and with other people to shape the plan. With that, the Prosecutor’s Office understood that the Vice President was aware of what was happening with the embezzlement of public works and asked that she be sentenced for considering her the head of an illicit association and for fraudulent administration to the detriment of the administration.

The beginning of Cristina Kirchner’s argument will take place in a special context. On September 1, she was the victim of an attempted homicide at the door of her Recoleta building when she returned from the Senate and while greeting the people who went to accompany her, Fernando Sabag Montiel came within inches of the vice president, put a Bersa-caliber pistol on her 32 and triggered. These marches in support of the former president began the day after the Prosecutor’s Office concluded her allegation and asked that she be sentenced.

For the attempted murder there is a legal case and the case has four people arrested. “I am alive for God and for the Virgin,” said the Vice President last Thursday at a Senate event in what was her first public appearance after the attack.

The arguments stage also takes place in a context of concern for the judges of the Federal Oral Court 2 who have the trial, Jorge Gorini, Rodrigo Giménez Uriburu and Andrés Basso. Last Thursday morning, Gorini found a suspicious package between the gate and the garage of his house. Explosives experts detonated it and inside it contained oranges. And last week Giménez Uriburu denounced that they tried to enter his cell phone with a chip change that he had not requested. In addition, the three magistrates were victims last July of the intrusion of unknown persons into the office of the Council of the Judiciary that keeps the confidential annexes of the affidavits of all the members of the Judicial Power. It was determined that 33 envelopes were opened, including those of the judges in the public works case

When Cristina Kirchner’s defense ends her plea, the same stage will remain for seven other defendants. After that, the court can say to enable the stage of replies and rejoinders where all parties can respond to aspects of the allegations that were not addressed in the trial. After that, the defendants will be able to speak in court for the last time before the verdict and finally the decision of the judges. The expectation that the magistrates have is to announce the verdict before the end of the year and that it does not extend to 2023, when the presidential elections will be held so that there are no political interpretations of their decision. Beyond that they know that there will still be.

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