Wednesday, July 24, 2024

ARGENTINA | 22-12-2023 15:30

Court nullifies Lago Escondido case, dismisses case against those indicted

Ruling by Federal Judge Sebastián Ramos concludes that proceedings concerning controversial trip shared by judges, officials and media businesspeople are null and void.

Federal Judge Sebastián Ramos has decided to nullify the case investigating the trip shared by judges, officials and media businesspeople to Joe Lewis’ mansion in Lago Escondido.

As a result of the decision, disclosed on Friday December 22, the case that indicted people such as Federal Judge Julián Ercolini and Cassation Justice Carlos Mahíques was dismissed. The same goes for former Buenos Aires City Security minister Marcelo D'Alessandro.

The trip had been made public after some alleged chats shared by the former Security minister with the rest of the travellers were leaked, where they debated about how to evade the dissemination of their tour of the south. An article published in the press led to a criminal report by attorney Marcelo Hertzriken Velasco before the Bariloche Federal Court, but then the case was referred to a Comodoro Py Court.

The resolution signed by Ramos within case file 4419/2023 includes the dismissal of the cases against former Buenos Aires City attorney general Juan Bautista Mahíques and Judge in Criminal Financial matters Pablo Yadarola. The list is completed with Leonardo Bergroth, former intelligence agent; Tomás Reinke, media businessman; and directors of Grupo Clarín, Pablo Casey and Jorge Rendo.

They were all part of the group who travelled from Buenos Aires to Río Negro on October 13, 2022, onboard a private plane of the company Flyzar which took off from San Fernando Airport.

According to Télam, the judge’s ruling considered that the proceedings ought to be closed, since “the evidence which supported the report were obtained in violation of constitutional guaranties”. Thus, he held that “grounding a court ruling thereon compromises the proper administration of justice”.

In a case marked by the appearance of alleged chats, the judge considered he cannot deliver a ruling, since that initial evidence resulted from “irregular follow-up”. According to him, it included the involvement of a Security Force (the Airport Security Police) and other State bodies, by leaking the flight plan.

“The unjustified meddling that was part of those unlawful actions resulted in the infringement on the right to privacy of those reported”, Ramos ruled.

When giving an opinion on the trip itself, its participants and the alleged crime, the judge believed that there were no “signs of a crime being committed or any evidence supporting said hypothesis."

When the controversial trip first came to light, former president Alberto Fernández delivered a national broadcast requesting that to the Public Prosecutor’s Office investigate possible crimes arising from the alleged chat messages. The head of state said that, if proven to be true, the behaviour amounted to bribery and breach of duty.

Yet he also instructed former judicial councillor on behalf of the Executive Branch, Gerónimo Ustarroz, to request the commencement of summary proceedings in the Disciplinary Commission for the judges who went on the trip to be investigated.

Simultanously, the hacking of D’Alessandro is also being investigated by Buenos Aires City courts, although there is a conflict of jurisdiction with federal courts which must be settled by the Supreme Court.

“Once again, the Kirchnerite mafia at its finest. They fund a tragicomic intelligence operation with people's taxes to save their boss. They threaten and extort because that’s the only way they know how to do politics. No one believes them,” said the former minister about the incident.

After the scandal, D'Alessandro took leave and eventually quit office.

This latest trial court resolution with the dismissals arrives two weeks after a change of government.



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