- Title: Argentines bemused over Fernandez corruption case
- Date: 28th December 2016
- Summary: BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (FILE) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF ARGENTINE FEDERAL COURTHOUSE VARIOUS OF FORMER ARGENTINE PRESIDENT, CRISTINA FERNANDEZ, ENTERING COURTS TO MAKE STATEMENT
- Embargoed: 12th January 2017 13:58
- Keywords: Cristina Fernandez Macri Nestor Kirchner Our Lady of Fatima Julio de Vido
- Location: BUENOS AIRES + EL CALAFATE, SANTA CRUZ, ARGENTINA / INTERNET
- City: BUENOS AIRES + EL CALAFATE, SANTA CRUZ, ARGENTINA / INTERNET
- Country: Argentina
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0035ESRHAB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Argentines who are concerned about a harsh recession found themselves reminded Wednesday (December 28) of ghosts from their recent past - former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez was indicted on Tuesday (December 28) on charges she ran a corruption scheme with a public works secretary who was arrested in June while trying to stash millions of dollars in a convent.
Interviewed by Reuters, Argentines were saw the charges as part of a culture of corruption, perhaps even seeing it as an exceptional case/ But the former left-leaning president definitely still counts on many supporters.
A federal judge accused the former officials and other officials of the Fernandez administration of crimes "including the deliberate seizure of funds principally meant for public road works."
Corruption charges have long swirled around Fernandez and her husband and predecessor, the late Nestor Kirchner. She denies wrongdoing and accuses Argentina's current leader, Mauricio Macri, of using the courts to persecute her.
Interviewed by Reuters, Argentines expected accountability for wrongdoing.
"She has to pay up. If you rob a chicken, you go to prison. But if you rob millions of pesos, well, nothing happens around here," said 69-year old Argentine retiree, Carlos Garcia.
"For me it's got to be equal for everyone who's dealing with legal problems, or even money from the state," said 52-year old Argentine worker, Alejandro Bergman.
"It has to be returned. And she needs to be put in the appropriate place, because to me it's frightening what's being done. What she's done," said 53-year old Argentine worker, Lidia Geronimo.
"She's got to be taken prisoner, and that's been for some time, not just as of now, because they've destroyed the country, she and her husband," said 60-year old Argentine living on disability, Dario Guerra.
"You know what I think? That no politician in any part of the world is clean. That's the truth," said 55-year old Argentine worker, Gloria Fernandez.
"We (Fernandez's Victory Front Party) will return," said 29-year old Argentine worker, Yanina Flores.
"There's nothing you can do other than trust in the justice system. You never know whether or not there are other intentions. This is the only system we have, and justice system must proceed with their work," said 48-year old Argentine businesswoman, Gustavo Guerving.
The country was riveted in June when Fernandez's former public works secretary, Jose Lopez, was arrested while tossing bags stuffed with millions of dollars over the walls of a Catholic convent on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
A gun-toting Lopez started hurling the money into the Our Lady of Fatima convent when the elderly nuns inside were slow to answer the door in the early morning hours of June 14, according to a neighbour who witnessed what happened and called 911.
A surveillance video shows the nuns finally welcoming Lopez and accepting the cash while paying little attention to the automatic rifle he had placed by the convent door.
Lopez and his direct boss, former Planning Minister Julio De Vido, were indicted along with Fernandez on Tuesday.
The alleged skimming of road projects took place in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, where Fernandez lives.
"It's an embarrassment with her in the position she was in being the head of the corruption. Other governments at other times have stolen, but none like this. I never liked her, never, and I hope the judges put things in order, and put her in prison, her and the whole committee," said 70-year old gardener, Eva Lazarte.
The ruling said the offences took place until Dec. 9, 2015, Fernandez's last day as president after eight years in office. No arrest warrant has been issued for Fernandez, and Lopez is already in jail on money laundering charges.
In May Fernandez was indicted for "unfaithful administration to the detriment of public administration." During her administration, according to the charges, the central bank took money-losing positions in the futures market just before a widely expected devaluation of the peso currency.
Fernandez, head of the leftist faction of the Peronism party umbrella, is revered by millions of Argentines for her generous welfare programs. She is reviled by others, who accuse her of wrecking Argentina's economy, Latin America's third biggest, with profligate state spending and heavy-handed trade and currency controls.
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