Thursday, May 23, 2024

ARGENTINA | 23-04-2024 15:49

Ex-lawmaker who resigned in breast-kissing scandal sentenced to month in prison

Former national deputy Juan Ameri (Frente de Todos) convicted of creating a public disturbance and sentenced to one month in prison; Ex-lawmaker was suspended from Congress after kissing his partner’s breast during a remote videoconference session beamed live into Congress.

A former national deputy who resigned his post in disgrace after being caught on camera kissing his partner’s breast during a videoconference session of Congress has been handed time behind bars.

A federal court on Monday sentenced ex-lawmaker Juan Emilio Ameri (Frente de Todos-Salta) to a month in prison and two years of probation following a conviction for creating a public disturbance.

Ameri, 50, won unwanted global fame after video footage of him sucking on his partner’s breasts went viral during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The incident took place during the transmission of a Congress session in September 2020 via a livestream broadcast. At that time, proceedings were being held remotely to counter the spread of coronavirus. 

In scenes broadcast live on the giant video screen installed in the Chamber of Deputies, a woman was seen approaching the legislator for Salta Province before sitting on his lap. Ameri was then seen touching her body, before pulling down her top and kissing her breast.

Lawmakers were debating the pension system’s Fondo de Garantía de Sustentabilidad at the time. Though Ameri’s amorous intervention certainly livened up proceedings, it created a national scandal that ended in the lawmaker’s suspension via unanimous vote for “indecorous conduct.” 

"This house considers deputy Ameri suspended awaiting a committee ruling," asserted then-lower house speaker Sergio Massa after a unanimous vote to apply Article 118 of Congress regulations. 

Massa then proposed the expulsion of Ameri for “indecorous conduct.”

"In these months we have co-existed with situations in which some deputy has fallen asleep or covered up [their screen] while at home, but today we have experienced a situation exceeding the rules of co-existence and normal procedure in this House," indicated Massa at the time. 

Ameri attempted to explain away the controversy by claiming the sexual scenes were broadcast unwittingly, saying he did not think he was connected at the time. 

A second attempt to justify his behaviour – in which he explained that his partner had recently undergone an operation for breast implants and that he wanted to test the results – also fell flat.

By the following morning, he resigned his post.

"I was wrong and I paid for it. I feel that I failed the people of Salta. I am a grassroots activist who was fulfilling the dream of every militant," said Ameri at the time.

During the trial, prosecutor Eduardo Taiano called for a prison sentence of four months and the defence sought acquittal, arguing that the ex-deputy had already paid for his error with his expulsion. 

The judge imposed the sentence in a trial, rejecting the defence’s arguments. It is probable that Ameri will also face some form of disqualification from holding public office in the future.



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