A court in Argentina on Tuesday quashed a case against Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner investigating charges of alleged irregular use of the presidential air fleet during her two terms in office between 2007 and 2015.
The decision, delivered by the Federal Criminal Cassation Court, refers to a case opened by late federal judge Claudio Bonadio that probed whether presidential aircraft were used to transport furniture to the Patagonian hotels owned by the Kirchner family while she was president. Clothing, newspapers and even a hair stylist were alleged to have been flown to her home in the country's south.
However, the Cassation Court has now decided to quash the trial and rule it as invalid, considering that Bonadio had not acted impartially in making himself the judge of the case when he himself was the one who had pressed the charges. A ruling from the court asserted that "a basic guarantee has been violated."
The news is a boost for Fernández de Kirchner, the former president who has accumulated a dozen cases against herself in recent years. She has been acquitted in several of them while her legal immunity as vice-president exempts her from jail.
To date, Fernández de Kirchner, 70, has been sentenced to six years in prison and a perpetual ban from holding political office for corruption offences related to awarding highway works in Santa Cruz Province during her two presidential terms.
She denies all the allegations against her and say they form part of a plot of legal and political persecution designed to taint her image and limit her political power.
Tuesday’s decision was taken by the judges Guillermo J. Yacobucci, Angela Ledesma and Alejandro Slokar. As well as quashing all Bonadio’s proceedings, they also removed a number of federal appeals court judges from the case, namely Leopoldo Bruglia, Pablo Bertuzzi and Mariano Llorens, who last year had upheld the trial ordered by Bonadio.
The judges accepted a legal challenge from Fernández de Kirchner’s lawyers that argued Bonadio could not simultaneously be judge and prosecutor.