Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner used the closing arguments at her corruption trial to chastise the prosecutors bringing the charges against her and also invoked her assassination attempt.
Ms. Fernández de Kirchner, a lawyer herself, spoke for almost 60 minutes last Friday, September 23. She and 12 others — former state officials among them — are being tried in federal court for allegedly being part of a corruption network in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz.
The vice president is accused of awarding almost 80% of the provincial public works projects to the business of a family friend, Lázaro Báez, during her and her husband Néstor Kirchner’s presidential administration, and illegally siphoning off state funds.
Instead of using her time to explain why she’s not guilty of the crimes she’s being accused of, the vice president used her speech to talk directly to the Argentine people, portraying herself as a victim of political persecution.
She began her address to the court by criticizing the neutrality of both prosecutors as she did in August, when she asked the court to recuse them, alleging both have ties with her political opposition.
“I want to congratulate my lawyers for their arguments, as the incredible lies of prosecutors Mola and Luciani were dismantled,” she said, referencing prosecutors Sergio Mola and Diego Luciani. “The arbitrariness [of the prosecutors’ arguments] was brought to light. You cannot believe how this trial was carried out and why.”
She went on to say that the judiciary is overstepping its bounds laid out in Argentina’s Constitution, and claimed that there is no grounds for the case because if the vice president was indeed the head of an illicit organization then Prosecutor Luciani himself would be part of that organization as Ms. Fernández de Kirchner appointed him.
“Governments are elected by the people and we can never be an illicit association,” she said. She argued that Luciani had said that there is no serious legal basis that prevents the judiciary from reviewing conduct of the other branches of power. “In other words,” she said, “in the republican division, the Public Prosecutor’s Office assumes supremacy over the other two [branches].”
Ms. Fernández de Kirchner also took a moment during her speech to link her “political persecution” at the trial with the assassination attempt against her on September 1.
“The day the prosecutor finished his histrionic argument, they showed the door of my house on television. Right there they wanted to shoot me,” she said, insinuating that the news media may have also played a role in the attempt on her life.
Finalizing her speech, the vice president said, “My condition as a woman supports stigmatization. All presidents since the return to democracy, except [former President Mauricio] Macri, have been lawyers. But the only one they accused of not being [a lawyer] is me,” referring to a controversial rumor from 2007 that said she hadn’t finished her law studies. That rumor was debunked by the university.
The trial will now go on with the closing arguments of the other 12 accused for the next few weeks. There’s currently no estimated date for the final decision of the judges.