A high court judge in Argentina has ordered arrest of the country’s ex-president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who was indicted on treason charges. Her arrest warrant was issued on Thursday.
The judge also called on Congress to make haste and strip her of immunity as a senator, so she can be arrested for prosecution.
Cristina stands accused for covering up possible Iranian involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, popularly known as AMIA, in exchange for favorable trade deals.
The 64-year-old lawyer and politician is Argentina’s first female president to be directly elected and re-elected to the office. She is a social democrat and member of the Justicialist Party.
Image: Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
According to Bloomberg, the original case against Cristina was filed by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died with a bullet found in his head the day before he was scheduled to present his evidence to Congress. The deceased was shot right inside his bathroom.
Before his death, Nisman reportedly wiretapped officials and uncovered information in connection to a Memorandum of Understanding endorsed by both Argentina and the Iranian government on January 27, 2013, in Ethiopia.
Nisman made claims that the secret political agreement outlined a plan to “collaborate with Iran on its goal to accelerate and support nuclear development” in exchange for an oil-for-grain trade deal and a finding by Argentina that the Iranians were innocent in the 1994 attack, official court documents said.
Judge Claudio Bonadio, who gave the orders for the ex-president’s arrest, reviewed Nisman’s case file after it was rejected by another prosecutor.
The indicted female leader and members of her government “betrayed traditional and historical national interests and those of the people affected by the attacks” and looked to “gain impunity for Iranian citizens accused in the attack on the AMIA headquarters and to normalize relations between both states,” Bonadio wrote in a 491-page complaint.
Cristina and her former ministers have been at the forefront of recurring allegations on corruption and financial mismanagement in recent months. Several arrests have been made amid accusations that her camp collaborated with President Mauricio Macri’s government and judges in the act.
One of the prominent persons alleged to have engaged in illicit enrichment through a money-printing company is former Vice President Amado Boudou, who was also detained last month.
Another high-profile politician, Argentina’s Planning Minister Julio De Vido, is awaiting trial in jail after the lower house of Congress voted to remove his immunity.
Cristina is already set to stand trial in another case led by Bonadio for alleged fraud in dollar futures trading although as a senator, Congress would first have to vote to strip her of parliamentary immunity for an arrest to occur.
The Argentine judge, Bonadio, who also carried out raids linked to the case on Thursday, indicted and ordered house arrest for Cristina’s Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, the 491-page ruling said.
The attack on a Jewish community center killed 85 people and injured a further 150, making it the deadliest bombing in Argentina’s history.
Cristina is a Peronist who served as president of Argentina between 2007 to 2015 and once formed part of a cadre of left-leaning leaders in Latin America, including Venezuela’s late Hugo Chávez. She has repeatedly denied claimed that she committed crimes as a public office holder.
On Thursday, she lashed out at the fresh charges in a press conference in Buenos Aires saying that “the treason accusation has no foundation and is an insult to Argentina’s intelligence.”
In her words, “…They want to shut me up before I start in Congress next week. This has nothing to do with justice or democracy…There’s no cause, no crime, no motive. There was a judgment without cause. God knows it, the government knows it, President [Mauricio] Macri knows it, too.”
The country’s senate will struggle with a two-third majority in order to successfully strip Cristina of her immunity, unlike De Vido’s case, because President Mauricio reportedly has less seats in the senate than in the lower house.
Javier Zelaznik, a professor in politics at Torcuato Di Tella university in Buenos Aires, said a vote on stripping Cristina’s immunity “would be gifting her victimization,” adding that “there’s going to be a lot of noise, but the result will be that she will continue in the Senate.”