Federal Judge for the Dolores district Alejo Ramos Padilla can continue leading the pre-trial investigation into an alleged widespread illegal espionage network with deep roots in Argentina's Judiciary, despite several public and legal challenges to his authority over the case, a court determined Monday.
Ramos Padilla's investigation centres on the alleged activities, and broad and questionable connections with the country's judges, prosecutors and even journalists, of the phoney lawyer Marcelo D'Alessio, whom the judge has detained under a preventative arrest warrant. His case is so far based on a cache of documents and records seized from D'Alessio's home.
Ramos Padilla is accused of operating politically to favour former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, since one of the prosecutors who allegedly used D'Alessio's services to pressure witnesses, Carlos Stornelli, is investigating Fernández de Kirchner for alleged corruption.
The judge's control over the case was questioned, at least formally, on the grounds his court did not have the jurisdiction to investigate.
Ramos Padilla can continue his work, the Mar del Plata Federal Court ruled Monday. The ruling was anticipated by newspaper Perfil in its Saturday edition, citing court sources.
His investigation began in early 2019 following the accusations of businessman Pedro Etchebest that D'Alessio had attempted to extort money from him in exchange for favourable treatment in the so-called Cuadernos (Notebooks) investigation, in which Fernández de Kirchner is accused of orchestrating a kick-back scheme in cahoots with contraction bosses to embezzle public works funds.
The Mar del Plata tribunal determined that "only one" court should investigate the matter, "given the broader situational and legal context that has been established to date".
However, the ruling does not entirely end the issue of jurisdiction.
"After a length evaluation of the collected evidence... we believe that these do not allow us to establish - for the time being - the place in which these crimes took place", the court ruled.