Argentine VP Cristina Fernández guilty, 6 years for fraud

Dec 5, 2022, 6:38 PM | Updated: Dec 6, 2022, 8:04 pm
FILE - Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernandez greets supporters as she leaves her home in Buen...

FILE - Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernandez greets supporters as she leaves her home in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug. 23, 2022. Federal court judges are preparing on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, to announce their verdict in the corruption trial of Fernandez who is accused of running a criminal organization that defrauded the state of $1 billion during her presidency through public works contracts granted to a construction magnate closely tied to her family. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)

(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernández was convicted and sentenced Tuesday to six years in prison and a lifetime ban from holding public office for a fraud scheme that embezzled $1 billion through public works projects during her presidency.

A three-judge panel found the Peronist leader guilty of fraud, but rejected a charge of running a criminal organization, for which the sentence could have been 12 years in prison. It’s the first time an Argentine vice president has been convicted of a crime while in office.

The sentence isn’t firm until appeals are decided, a process that could take years. She remains immune from arrest meanwhile, as long as she can keep getting elected.

Speaking after the verdict, she described herself as the victim of a “judicial mafia.”

Her supporters vowed to paralyze the country with a nationwide strike. They clogged downtown Buenos Aires and marched on the federal court building, beating drums and shouting as they pressed against police barriers.

Fernández roundly denied all the accusations. Argentina’s dominant leader this century, she was accused of improperly granting public works contracts to a construction magnate closely tied to her family.

The verdict is certain to deepen fissures in the South American nation, where politics can be a blood sport and the 69-year-old populist leader is either loved or hated.

Prosecutors said Fernández fraudulently directed 51 public works projects to Lázaro Báez, a construction magnate and early ally of her and her husband Nestor Kirchner, who served as president from 2003-2007 and died suddenly in 2010.

Báez and members of her 2007-2015 presidential administration were among a dozen others accused in the conspiracy. The panel sentenced Báez and her public works secretary, José López, to six years. Most of the others got lesser sentences.

Prosecutors Diego Luciani and Sergio Mola said the Báez company was created to embezzle revenues through improperly bid projects that suffered from cost overruns and in many cases were never completed. The company disappeared after the Kirchners’ 12 years in power, they said.

In Argentina, judges in such cases customarily pronounce verdicts and sentences first and explain how they reached their decision later. The panel’s full decision is expected in February. After that, the verdict can be appealed up to the Supreme Court, a process that could take years.

Pollster Roberto Bacman, who directs Argentina’s Center for Public Opinion Studies and supported the campaign of current President Alberto Fernández, said the opposition parties have been hoping to campaign calling her a convict, as well as a thief and a whore.

And Cristina Fernández, who last month compared her judges to a “firing squad,” is ready to play the victim, characterizing the judiciary as a pawn of right-wing forces including opposition media and Mauricio Macri, who succeeded her as president, Bacman said.

“So we already know how she’ll be attacked and also how Kirchnerism will defend her, which is to consider her a victim of “lawfare,” just like Lula (President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva) faced in Brazil or what the former president of Ecuador (Rafael Correa) currently faces,” Bacman said.

Either way, she remains the singular leader of the leftist faction of the Peronist movement. Bacman said his surveys show 62% want her removed and 38% support her, no matter what.

Meanwhile, other cases remain pending against her, including a charge of money-laundering that also involves her son and daughter.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Judge: Banning guns for marijuana users unconstitutional

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge in Oklahoma has ruled that a federal law prohibiting people who use marijuana from owning firearms is unconstitutional, the latest challenge to firearms regulations after the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority set new standards for reviewing the nation’s gun laws. Lawyers for Jared Michael Harrison had argued that […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Indiana officer fatally shoots man who had pulled a handgun

MARION, Ind. (AP) — A man suspected of firing shots in a northeastern Indiana city was fatally shot by a police officer early Sunday after the suspect pulled a handgun on the officer, police said. Marion police officers received a report about 3:50 a.m. ET about gunshots being fired in the city in an incident […]
2 days ago
FILE - Will Keeps, president of Starts Right Here, stands for a photo at his organization in Des Mo...
Associated Press

Program’s head says Iowa school shooting won’t deter him

The founder of an educational program for at-risk youth in Des Moines says he will remain “all in on helping kids that are not reachable in so many peoples’ eyes” after he was wounded in last month’s shooting that killed two students. Will Keeps, 49, a former Chicago gang member who moved to Iowa in […]
2 days ago
In this photo provided by the U.S Coast Guard Pacific Northwest, Coast Guard personnel help carry a...
Associated Press

Arrest made in stolen yacht rescue, ‘Goonies’ fish incident

SEATTLE (AP) — A stolen yacht. A dramatic Coast Guard rescue. A dead fish. And the famed home featured in the classic 1985 film “The Goonies.” Combined, Oregon police called it a series of “really odd” events along the Pacific Northwest coast spanning 48 hours that concluded Friday night with the arrest of a Canadian […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Former NFL player faces DUI charge in Florida after crash

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — A former NFL player was arrested on a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge after troopers say his vehicle rear-ended a pick-up truck that was on the side of a South Florida highway because of a flat tire, injuring the truck’s driver who had been standing outside. Vontae Davis, 34, smelled […]
2 days ago
This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk and Southern freight train that derailed ...
Associated Press

Evacuations urged in Ohio town as train wreck smolders

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) — A smoldering tangle of dozens of derailed freight cars, some carrying hazardous materials, has kept an evacuation order in effect in Ohio near the Pennsylvania state line as environmental authorities warily watch air quality monitors. About 50 cars derailed in East Palestine at about 9 p.m. Friday as a train […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Argentine VP Cristina Fernández guilty, 6 years for fraud