Could Argentina’s President Go to Jail for Alleged Involvement in a Cover-up and Murder?

PHOTO CREDIT: Charly Diaz Azcue/Getty
PHOTO CREDIT: Charly Diaz Azcue/Getty

Argentine Federal Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita on Friday sought to indict President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, her Foreign Minister Héctor Timmerman and Congressman Andres Larroque for allegedly covering up the involvement of Iranian officials in the 1994 terrorist attack on a Jewish center that killed 85 people and injured hundreds more.

It is a political earthquake in a country that has seen more than its share of military dictatorships, coups and financial instability, so what happened today in Argentina is a scandal with global impact.

Pollicita’s push follows the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman on Jan. 18, who was found dead with a shot to the head in his apartment. Just a few days before he was found, he was preparing to file charges against the president.

Pollicita acted on Nisman’s 289-page criminal case, which is now in the hands of Judge Daniel Rafecas, who can decide to move forward or dismiss the case.

Nothing is predictable in a country in shock over the death of a prosecutor who was just about to indict the president. A country that after 12 years of Kirchner’s government will vote for a new president in eight months. A country in which, according to the polls, most of the public thinks Nisman was the victim of a crime that will never be solved. A country where federal prosecutors called for a pro-Nisman march next Wednesday to demand independence from political influence.

Kirchner and her allies have accused federal prosecutors of siding with opposition parties in a bid to orchestrate a judicial coup against her.

On Friday morning, Kirchner’s chief of staff, Anibal Fernandez, accused the prosecutors organizing the Feb. 18 march of anti-Semitism and drug trafficking, and the president has yet to offer her condolences to Nisman’s family.

Such is the confusion in the country these days that the government’s official twitter account only contained information about the boom in tourism related to the Carnival celebration.

All of this is happening eight months before the next presidential election to determine Kirchner’s successor. She has already served two terms and cannot run again, but evidence of high-level corruption is piling up against her in court and if her party loses the next elections to the opposition, her judicial immunity would be in peril.

So is there any chance that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner could go to jail?

Not as long as she is in office. According to Argentine law, no judge can convict the president, the vice president, or cabinet ministers without an impeachment. And that is practically impossible because Kirchner’s Partido Justicialista has a parliamentary majority in both houses.

But elections are set for October and her term ends on Dec. 10. She could be arrested after then.

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SOURCE: The Daily Beast, María Julia Oliván