Argentina’s former president Cristina Kirchner will stand trial for corruption after allegedly taking millions in bribes while in office
- Argentina’s former president accused of receiving tens of millions in bribes
- Cristina Kirchner allegedly ran network related to ‘corruption notebooks’
- The notebook kept by a ministerial chauffeur detailed bribes paid to government
- A request was accepted for Kirchner to be held in pre-trial detention
- But her partial parliamentary immunity prevents that from happening
The former president of Argentina will go on trial for corruption after allegedly taking millions of dollars in bribes, a federal court confirmed on Thursday.
Cristina Kirchner is accused of effectively running a bribery network which was uncovered when a ministerial chauffeur was found with notebooks detailing millions of dollars in bribes paid by businessmen to government officials.
The court accepted a request by judge Claudio Bonadio that Kirchner, now a senator, be held in pre-trial detention, but her partial parliamentary immunity prevents that from happening.
The court accepted a request by a judge that former president Cristina Kirchner, pictured last month, can be held in pre-trial detention
She is protected by lawmakers’ immunity from imprisonment, but not from prosecution.
In August, the Senate voted to partially lift her immunity so that investigators could search her three luxury homes – but unless it is entirely lifted, she cannot be jailed even if found guilty.
Soon after learning the decision, Kirchner hit out against President Mauricio Macri’s government.
She said: ‘I say, where will the verdicts be written? All at the request of and custom-made by Macri,’ also pointing a finger at the centre-right coalition Cambiemos and Clarin newspaper, which has long opposed her.
Kirchner is accused of running a criminal network related to the infamous ‘corruption notebooks’ scandal
The court also seized 1.5 billion pesos (£30 million) worth of her assets and ordered former planning minister Julio de Vido to be prosecuted for his role in the illicit association.
Several other people, former junior ministers and businessmen, were ordered to be released from detention but will still be prosecuted for bribery.
Both Kirchner, 65, and her late husband and predecessor as president, Nestor, are suspected of having received millions of dollars in bribes from businessmen in exchange for large-scale public works contracts.
The payments were documented by ministerial chauffeur Oscar Centeno in notebooks seized by investigators.
Nestor Kirchner, who died of a heart attack in 2010, was president from 2003-07, with his wife then serving consecutive terms until 2015.
More than a dozen former government officials and 30 top businessman are implicated in the case, first reported by La Nacion newspaper on August 1.
Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli has said a total of £126 million in bribes was handed over between 2005 and 2015.
Former Argentina president Cristina Kirchner will go on trial for corruption (pictured at the new abortion law in August 2018)
The scandal has engulfed practically the entire construction industry in Argentina, even involving Macri’s family.
His father Franco and brother Gianfranco were called before Bonadio last week to answer questions relating to the Autopistas del Sol company, a subsidiary of the Macri Group, in connection with alleged bribes paid to secure highway contracts.
His cousin and businessman, Angelo Calcaterra has also been caught up in the probe.
The president, who held important roles in the family business started by his father before beginning a political career, has not commented on the case, while the government has said it respects the judiciary’s independence.
Away from the corruption scandal, Macri has his hands full managing an economic crisis that has seen the peso lose 50 percent of its value against the dollar this year, while Argentina entered recession earlier this week.
Macri has secured a £44 billion bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund to try to drag Argentina out of its problems, while implementing tough austerity measures.