Argentina ex President indicted

Argentina ex President indicted
Argentina’s former President Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner has been indicted by a federal judge in the country for treason. The judge has also ordered her arrest..

Argentina’s former President Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner has been indicted by a federal judge in the country for treason. The judge has also ordered her arrest over her alleged role of covering up Iran’s possible role in the AMIA bombing.

In 1994, there was a bomb attack in a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that resulted in the deaths of 85 people and injured hundreds more.

Background

Argentina is a South American nation that is rich in resources. It boasts a well-educated workforce and is one of South America's largest economies. It is the second largest economy in South America after Brazil. Today a high-income economy, Argentina maintains a relatively high quality of life and GDP per capita.

However, Argentina has long suffered from widespread and endemic corruption. Bribery and fraud are also found common among the private sector, and the lack of transparency in government regulations and laws has triggered an increased uncertainty among investors. Transparency International ranked Argentina 106th out of 177 countries surveyed for its 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner is an Argentine lawyer and politician. She served as President of Argentina from 2007 to 2015. She was the first directly elected woman to be elected President in the nation. However, in total, she was the second woman to serve as President. She also holds the distinction of the being the first woman to win re-election. Her Presidency was however marred by corruption charges and scandals. Under President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner," reported the Heritage Foundation in 2013, "respect for markets and the rule of law has deteriorated and corruption has boomed." Prior to becoming President, she served as the First Lady of Argentina when her husband Néstor Kirchner served as President. She is currently a sitting Senator in the country.

AMIA bombing

On July 18th, 1994, there was a bomb attack that took place on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA; Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) building in Buenos Aires. It resulted in the deaths of 85 people and injured hundreds of others. This was the deadliest bombing the nation has ever witnessed in its history.  On 25 October 2006, Argentine prosecutors Alberto Nisman and Marcelo Martínez Burgos formally accused the government of Iran of directing the bombing, and the Hezbollah militia of carrying it out.

 

Analysis

Argentina’s former President Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner has been indicted by a federal judge in the country for treason. The judge has also ordered her arrest over her alleged role of covering up Iran’s possible role in the AMIA bombing.

Federal judge Claudio Bonadio has stated that she was involved in "an orchestrated criminal plan" to cover up the alleged involvement of senior Iranian officials in the 1994 attack. The judge also ordered that Héctor Timerman, who had served as Foreign Minister under Fernández, to be placed under house arrest. Carlos Zannadi, a senior legal official in the Fernández administration, and political activist Luis D'Elía, who were both considered close allies of the former President have also been arrested.

Fernández, as a sitting Senator, enjoy immunity and as such cannot be arrested. At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, she denied the charges, saying: “There’s no crime, there’s no case. Bonadío knows it. The government knows it. President [Mauricio] Macri also knows it.”

In 2015, then prosecutor Alberto Nisman died under mysterious circumstances. He had led an investigation on the matter and had presented his charges against the former President. Days after, he had passed away. The current charges are based on this incident. He had accused Fernández and Timerman of “being authors and accomplices of an aggravated cover-up and obstruction of justice regarding the Iranians accused of the AMIA terrorist attack”.

“Free all the political prisoners,” D’Elía yelled as he was being handcuffed and he added, “This is a political case, they want to humiliate the opposition.”

Assessment

Our assessment is that as with any criminal case, due process has to be followed in order to arrive at justice. However, it remains to be seen if the former President will be arrested. The Senate will have to lift her immunity for the arrest to take place. Senators said they would consider the judge's request once they received it. Immunity can only be lifted if there is vote in the Senate and is passes with a two-third majority. 

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