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ARGENTINA | 30-10-2017 16:34

Alejandra Gils Carbó resigns as head prosecutor after government pressure

Decision to step down ends months-long battle by government to oust Gils Carbó from her post.

After a months-long battle involving increasing pressure from the government, Prosecutor General Alejandra Gils Carbó announced she would resign from her post Monday.

The nation’s highest prosecutor’s decision to step down, effective December 31, will come as a huge relief to the Mauricio Macri administration, which has previously described the outgoing attorney general as a “political activist” that favours former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Public efforts to end Gils Carbó’s tenure as attorney general began soon after President Mauricio Macri was elected and even before he was sworn-in. In recent months, that pressure has escalated considerably, especially after a criminal case was opened against Gils Carbó some three weeks ago. The attorney general, who denies the allegations against her, stands accused of defrauding the state during the purchase of a property by her office in 2013.

Government ministers have pushed the line in public that her position in the post has been untenable, considering the allegations against her. 

Gils Carbó was nominated for the post by Fernández de Kirchner in 2012 during the former president’s second term in office. The Senate, both with Kirchnerite and opposition support, gave her the super-majority approval required for all holders of the post.

Macri, who assumed office since late 2015, has repeatedly accused Gils Carbó of failing to bring corruption charges against members of Fernández de Kirchner’s government and sought judicial reform to push for her removal. Her office, in turn, has said that the government has tried to overrule its independence, with reports emerging of an almost 'tug of war' between her office and the government over who should receive information from Brazilian whistleblowers regarding corruption exposed through the ongoing Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato) investigation in Argentina's neighbouring country.

In her resignation letter, Gils Carbó expressed her concern that the president’s attempts to remove her and actions would end up hurting state institutions by “significantly affecting the autonomy of the public prosecutor’s office.”

"The same reasons that inspired my actions during 20 years in the institution and more than 30 in the administration of justice have motivated today my withdrawal,” she added in her letter, citing her attempts to put “a human rights perspective and universal access to justice" at the heart of her leadership of the Attorney General’s Office. 

Some human rights organisations yesterday expressed their dismay at Gils Carbó's decision to step down.

At an event Monday afternoon at the CCK, in which Macri unveiled his post-election reform agenda, Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña told reporters that Gils Carbó’s decision to step down would make the judiciary more independent.

"We welcome her resignation, we believe it is a contribution that will strengthen the independence of the judiciary," he said at a press conference. 

Other government ministers, including Justice Minister Germán Garavano, spoke to local television expressing their support for the attorney general’s decision.


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