Twelve years in prison and the accusation of being the head of an illegal association. At 6:00 p.m. in Argentina, 10:00 p.m. in Spain, the judges that make up the Federal Oral Court number 2 will announce the sentence in the case that investigates the alleged corruption in public works in the province of Santa Cruz, in the south of Argentina, which Néstor Kirchner administered for 12 years and since 2015 has been in the hands of Alicia Kirchner, sister-in-law of the vice president. The case has Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as the main defendant.
In a closed circle of only four people, the court refines details for a unanimous sentence in the trial against CFKRELATED
The vice president —and twice president— will listen in her Senate office to the sentence of judges Jorge Gorini, Rodrigo Giménez Uriburu and Andrés Basso in the so-called “Causa Viality”. Although there will be no mobilizations at the time of the verdict, because Kirchnerism itself decided to stop them, in the event of a possible conviction, concentrations of support for the vice president are expected, who has insisted on several occasions that the sentence against her “was written” and that she defends that it is a case of ‘lawfare’ (judicial harassment). From the mayor’s office of Buenos Aires they have deployed an important security operation in the main points of the city, especially in the center of Buenos Aires, the Congress and the court area.
This is the trial with the greatest political impact in the recent history of the country. It is the first against an incumbent vice president and political leader of the last 12 years. The case is of such magnitude that the judges met on Friday morning in the courts with the same habit that they have been practicing for weeks: without mobile phones, without witness employees, without leaks. It is expected that it will be a unanimous decision.
The Prosecutor’s Office requested a sentence of twelve years in prison and perpetual disqualification from holding public office against Fernández de Kirchner for considering her the head of an illegal association to defraud the Public Administration, through 51 road tenders in the province of Santa Cruz towards the companies of Lázaro Báez, a friend of former President Néstor Kirchner and the main beneficiary of the public works concession in Santa Cruz in the twelve years of government of the Kirchner couple. Also, the prosecutor requested confiscations for almost 1,000 million dollars. The defenses request the acquittal for non-existence of crime.
Last week, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner made clear what she thought of the trial: “It’s a firing squad.” The vice president has repeated on numerous occasions that her sentence against her “was written”, as she already said on December 2, 2019 – days before taking office as vice president in the current Executive – when her statement was taken. She at that time referred to the magistrates following the case as the “lawfare tribunal”.
More than a hundred witnesses passed through a trial that has lasted more than three and a half years and includes 13 defendants, including the businessman Lázaro Báez. The reading of the ruling will be virtual and the vice president, like the rest of the defendants, will have the obligation to keep her camera on when hearing the sentence.
More than testimonies, the backbone of the case has been documentary evidence. The point in question is whether the Prosecutor’s Office will have managed to prove the participation of the then president in the maneuver to divert public funds and works to favor the businessman Báez. In other words, to what extent the accusation of “illicit association” corresponds, a figure criticized by lawyers and politicians from different sectors who see this type of accusation as broad and tending to political persecution.
In addition to the illicit association, the vice president is accused of fraud, which has a penalty of up to six years in prison. Even if the Court contemplates both crimes and with the maximum sentence, Cristina Fernández will not be imprisoned since due to the position she occupies, she has privileges until she ends her term. That is to say, she must first submit to a political trial in which she is dismissed. Likewise, she must exhaust all judicial review instances, which includes the Supreme Court. And also, next February 19, the vice president will be 70 years old, so in case of being convicted she must serve house arrest.
On August 23, Cristina Fernández assured that “it is not a trial of Cristina Kirchner, it is a trial of Peronism.” A month later, the vice president denounced him for prevarication, a crime that implies sanctions against whoever “issues resolutions contrary to the express law invoked by the parties or by himself or cites, to found them, false facts or resolutions.”
One day before the verdict, a series of chats and audios between judges, city officials and businessmen were released to mask a trip to the province of Río Negro, in the south of the country, which has been denounced for “gifts” .
The complaint says that federal judges, two directors of Grupo Clarín, a Buenos Aires minister, the chief prosecutor of the city of Buenos Aires and a businessman with a past in the Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI) would have coordinated through the Telegram application. spread a false version to justify his participation in a private flight to the city of Bariloche, to the ranch of English businessman Joe Lewis.
The issue opened a political scandal about the management of a sector of Justice, in relation to the behavior of a group of judges, opposition officials and members of the largest media company in Argentina, the day before the ruling against the vice president
Although it is not related to the verdict that will be known this Tuesday, President Alberto Fernández decided to give a message on a national chain on Monday, which shows the intensity with which the Government lives the decision. The president announced that he will ask that the judges, prosecutors, officials and businessmen who made a trip to Joe Lewis’ ranch in Lago Escondido, in the province of Río Negro, be investigated.