Fernández charged with treason in Argentina

Fernández charged with treason in Argentina

17:32 - Ex-president accused of covering up Iran’s involvement in 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

An Argentine judge asked lawmakers to strip former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of her Congressional immunity on Thursday to enable her arrest after he charged her with treason.

Ms Fernández, who is now a senator, is accused of covering up Iran’s participation in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish social club in Buenos Aires, the country’s deadliest terrorist attack, in return for favourable trade deals.

The accusations are based on a case filed by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, whose mysterious death in his apartment the night before he was due to present his arguments before Congress in January 2015 was declared by investigating forensic experts earlier this year to have been murder. Ms Fernández “betrayed traditional and historical national interests and those of the people affected by the attacks” and looked to “gain impunity for Iranian citizens accused in the attack on the AMIA headquarters and to normalise relations between both states,” Judge Claudio Bonadio wrote in a 491-page complaint.

Ms Fernández, who was sworn in as a national senator last week after winning a seat in midterm legislative elections in October, argues that it is not a crime to attempt to normalise diplomatic relations with another state.

She has repeatedly claimed that the allegations against her are politically motivated, and argued when the trial began in October that she was a victim of “defamation and harassment”.

She has also questioned Mr Bonadio’s impartiality, accusing him of being involved in earlier cover-ups connected to the AMIA case. It is the third case on which Ms Fernández has been brought to trial since she left power two years ago.

Ms Fernández has also been charged over corruption accusations in public works projects, and with manipulating the central bank’s sale of future dollar contracts in the final months of her presidency.

It is also perhaps the most sensitive of the cases that Ms Fernández faces, with the investigation into the bombing of the AMIA centre that killed 85 people plagued with charges of incompetence and corruption over the past two decades.

Mr Bonadio is investigating Mr Nisman’s claim that a secret deal signed between Iran and Argentina attempted to remove Interpol red alerts and cover up the involvement of high-ranking members of the Iranian government at the time. President Mauricio Macri has said that he is determined to solve the mystery of Mr Nisman’s death.

Many Argentines hope that a spate of recent trials and arrests involving former officials from Ms Fernández’s government are the start of a cleansing of public life in Argentina, with a handful of former officials and associates of the government already in jail. They include Ms Fernández’s longtime planning minister Julio de Vido and her vice-president Amado Boudou, who have both been arrested since Mr Macri’s victory in the midterm elections, and José López, a former public works secretary who was imprisoned last year after trying to hide bags containing about $9m in cash in a monastery.

The arrest of Mr De Vido was made possible after Congress voted to strip him of his immunity in October, fuelling speculation that Ms Fernández could suffer a similar fate.

 

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