Argentine prosecutor demands 12-year prison sentence for VP Kirchner

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – An Argentine federal prosecutor on Monday requested a 12-year prison sentence for Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the country’s former president and current vice president, on corruption charges related to public works.

Prosecutor General Diego Luciani has accused Fernandez de Kirchner, a still influential voice of the left wing of the ruling Peronist party, of defrauding the state and of being involved in a scheme to divert public funds during the presidency between 2007 and 2015.

The verdict will be known within months, according to local media, although Fernandez de Kirchner may appeal the ruling to higher courts, which could take years to reach a final verdict.

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“This is probably the biggest corruption maneuver the country has ever known,” Luciani said, defending the ruling that has sparked new political tensions in the South American country.

On Twitter, Fernandez de Kirchner, who testified in court in 2019, said she faces a “media judicial death squad” and “not a constitutional court.”

The former president added that she was not given an opportunity to testify about new elements in the case and will present her defense on social media on Tuesday.

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez condemned the decision on Twitter, describing the decision in a statement as a case of judicial persecution.

“None of the actions attributed to the former president has been proven,” the statement said.

The attorney general also requested that Fernandez de Kirchner be banned from holding public office for life.

And local television showed, later on Monday, that the local police dispersed dozens of protesters in front of Kirchner’s home in the capital, Buenos Aires, in camps against and in support of the prosecutor’s request.

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The investigation seeks to determine whether she and other officials in her administration favored the companies owned by businessman Lazaro Baez in bidding processes for dozens of public works in the southern region of Patagonia, many of which were overpriced or incomplete.

Many experts doubt that the capital allegedly transferred would have returned to the Kirchner family’s hands through their companies.

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Additional reporting by Nicholas Misculin and Jorge Otaola; Editing by Margaret Choi, Stephen Coates, and Sam Holmes

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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