Eight years after being ousted in the middle of a scandal, the former mayor of a small town in Salta Province is attempting an ambitious political comeback.
Juan Rosario Mazzone, the former mayor of El Bordo – a town located in Güemes department, Salta – is seeking to once again become town mayor following his ousting from the post in 2015.
Mazzone lost his post after photos showing him half-naked and posing with minors were leaked to the media. The two minors, then aged 15 and 17, also appeared to be partially undressed in the photos.
Now, after serving a three-year sentence for the “corruption of minors,” Mazzone has decided to run for office once again.
Before he was dismissed, the 70-year-old leader, a member of the Salteño Justicialist Party, had 10 months left to finish his term.
The severity of the case led the town's council to approve his dismissal on January 13, 2015, just a few days after the images were released.
The case was then brought to the provincial court to determine whether Mazzone had committed a crime. After two years of investigation in the courts, Mazzone was found guilty. He was given three years in prison for the crime of “corruption of minors,” alongside two other defendants.
The ruling was signed by judges Federico Armiñana Dohorman, Héctor Ávila and Martín Pérez, who decided that the sentence would be conditional.
The sentence did not include, for example, a special ban from holding public office – a prohibition which is usually placed on political leaders who commit serious criminal offences.
From sentenced to candidate
Complaints regarding Mazzone’s candidacy led the provincial courts to examine the case and determine the conditions Mazzone must abide by to run for a fresh term.
"The considerations made regarding the ethical or moral quality of a person cannot be evaluated by this Court to prevent their application, in the sense that it is not possible to create requirements or impediments for the exercise of political rights which the law does not provide, nor does the Constitution authorise it,” the Court stated, according to local newspaper El Tribuno.
The judges found that the sentence has expired, given it was enacted in September 2019. As such, Mazzone’s guilty verdict does not conflict with any provincial laws on stipulations for candidates running for public office.
Thus, the courts rejected the two challenges filed and Mazzone will be able to run for the mayor of El Bordo in the provincial elections to be held on May 14.
When the case broke out in the media, Mazzone claimed he was the victim of a "political operation.”
"I was at the party with my wife. Then, a driver from El Bordo, whom I did not know, arrived with his girlfriend and three of their friends," Mazzone stated.
"They were just celebrating. I don't even know who they are," he continued, saying he was unaware of their age.
A few days later a photo appeared in which Mazzone was seen in his underpants with the two minors. However, Mazzone claimed the two minors had asked him to take the pictures.
The community chief justified his scant clothing by claiming "it was extremely hot and that's why I was bare-chested as seen in the photo.”
"There is nobody having sex, there is no-one who is kissing or anything like that. If they are minors, I don't see anything wrong,” Mazzone said.
"The councillors who have already impeached me are behind this. They go for me from all sides, because they know that I am horny. They are looking for me to resign and I am not going to,” Mazzone concluded.
Days later, he had to leave the post that he is now seeking to regain.