Buenos Aires, Argentina — An opposition lawmaker in Argentina, who has previously been accused of having knowledge of an impending assassination plot against Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on September 1, 2022, has now been accused of deleting data from the phones of two of his assistants weeks after the failed assassination attempt.
Ivana Bohdziewicz, an assistant for opposition Congressman Gerardo Milman, testified on May 5 that she and a colleague were asked to erase their personal phone data by their boss last November.
Congressman Milman is a member of the opposition coalition, “Juntos por el Cambio,” and a close ally of presidential candidate and president of the right-wing Republican Proposal (PRO) party, Patricia Bullrich.
Bohdziewicz had earlier testified to prosecutors in the case, but didn’t previously disclose that her phone data had been wiped clean.
How the investigation into Milman has unfolded thus far
During the first steps of the judicial investigation back in September, a witness testified that he had overheard Milman in a café talking to two assistants two days before the attack on the vice president. The witness said that Milman told his assistants, “When they kill her, I’m going to be on my way to the beach,” referring to the vice president.
Milman denied the witness’ statement and accused the ruling party of “persecuting political opponents.” The witness, Jorge Abello, is an advisor to a ruling Frente De Todos coalition congressman, as is now being investigated by the court for allegedly providing false testimony related to his remarks.
Two of Milman’s assistants, Bohdziewicz and Carolina Gómez Monaco, had testified to the court in October, providing confusing testimony and saying that they didn’t recall being in the café with Milman on the day the witness alleged he made the comments about the vice president. Investigators then showed the two security footage of the assistants with Milman at the café on the date in question, and at that point, the two admitted to being there, but said they didn’t recall Milman making the remarks about the vice president.
Following their first testimony in October, Fernández de Kirchner’s legal team asked the judge in the case to inspect Milman’s assistants’ phone, but at the time, Judge María Eugenia Capuchetti didn’t allow the phone inspections. On December 1, 2022, the judge made the decision to inspect the devices.
In January, Milman’s office fired Bohdziewicz, and at the end of April, she had requested a meeting with the prosecutor to give her third statement in the case where she revealed that her and her colleagues’ phone data had been wiped. At that time, she allegedly received a threatening message from her former co-worker, Gómez Monaco, saying, “Don’t betray me.”
According to her most recent testimony, Bohdziewicz met with Gómez Monaco on November 10 and spoke about the possibility of the courts searching their phones, and Gómez Monaco suggested they meet with Milman to work out the problem.
That same day, according to her, the assistants met with the congressman at the offices of PRO party president Bullrich. An IT expert that was also present took the assistants’ and Milman’s phones and allegedly manipulated them in order to delete the data. — based on news reports, it is unclear whether the IT expert was successful in wiping data from all of the phones, but Gómez Monaco was apparently instructed to hide her old phone.
On December 1, after Judge Capuchetti ordered the inspections of both assistants’ phones, Bohdziewicz told the court that she had deleted everything from her phone to protect her privacy and Gómez Monaco declared that she had bought a new device.
But all the data hadn’t been completely wiped out. A message retrieved from Bohdziewicz’s WhatsApp showed a message from Milman in a WhatsApp group with his assistants on August 29, reported Página 12.
“Girls, delete everything from the chat, my pictures and all. Of the office. Plis (sic),” read the message that was sent three days before the assassination attempt on the vice president.
After Bohdziewicz’s most recent testimony, the court ordered the inspection of the previous phone possessed by Gómez Monaco, which hadn’t been taken into consideration before these most recent revelations.
After the details of the deleted phone data had been reported by newspaper Página 12 on May 7, Vice President de Kirchner tweeted, “It is very impressive not only the naturalization of political violence against me, but also the cover-up of the assassination attempt that occurred on September 1.”
Bullrich, her political rival, soon responded: “They no longer know what to make up in the face of the total and utter failure of their pathetic co-government. With me, on December 10, Kirchnerism ends.” referring to the inauguration date of Argentine presidents.
Prosecutor Carlos Rívolo is now investigating potential links between Milman and his assistants and Fernando Sabag Montiel, the man who tried to shoot the vice president in September, as well as any possible links to the other three people arrested for the attempt on her life.
In the next few days, de Kirchner’s legal team will have to confirm if they accept moving forward to the trial only against the four arrested or if they push to keep this line of the investigation active in order to potentially find new evidence and include Milman and his assistants in the case’s list of accused. Milman had earlier asked that Rívolo be removed from the case, but judge Capuchetti rejected his request.