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ARGENTINA | 10-11-2022 14:52

Fernández de Kirchner demands removal of judge in assassination attempt probe

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner demands recusal of Judge Maria Eugenia Capuchetti in explosive intervention, linking opposition politician Gerardo Millman to failed attack and alleging assailants’ political connections have not been thoroughly investigated.

In a dramatic and politically charged intervention, Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has demanded the immediate recusal of the judge overseeing the investigation into the failed assassination attempt on her life.

Via a video posted on social media, the 69-year-old former president on Thursday accused Federal Judge María Eugenia Capuchetti of failing to thoroughly investigate her attackers' political connections and attempted to link opposition PRO party deputy Gerardo Milman to the failed shooting attack.

"I want to share the following video with you. As a result of the events that you are going to see and hear, I have instructed my lawyers to challenge Judge María Eugenia Capuchetti," Fernández de Kirchner said in a post accompanying the video.

"The judicial party wants me imprisoned or dead," she added.

Fernández de Kirchner survived the assassination attempt on September 1 as she mingled with supporters outside her home in the wealthy Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Recoleta when the gun brandished by her alleged assailant failed to fire.

Shortly after the failed attack, Fernández de Kirchner's lawyer Gregorio Dalbón claimed the attacker could not have acted alone and others must have been involved in the plot. Four people have since been charged with involvement in the attack. 

The alleged assailant, Fernando Andrés Sabag Montiel, 35, was arrested at the scene as he was detained by the vice-president’s supporters who had come to her home as she went on trial for alleged corruption while she was president.

Sabag Montiel's girlfriend Brenda Uliarte, 23, was taken into custody three days later.

Gabriel Carrizo, 27, and Agustina Díaz, 21, were arrested later and charged with complicity in the attack.

However, Díaz has since been released after an appeals court said there was a lack of evidence to indict her.

 

Video allegations

The video, narrated by the journalist Julia Mengolini, reviews the events surrounding the assassination attempt. It primarily details the objections from the vice-president, notably the fact that Milman – who previously worked at the Security Ministry during Mauricio Macri’s 2015-2019 administration – has not yet been summoned to testify. 

"It is clear that the 'judicial party' does not want Cristina as a victim. It wants her imprisoned or dead," says the narrator. 

The video then claims that a witness overheard Milman, two days before the failed shooting attack, making a comment that could presumably link him to an assassination plot.

"When they kill her, I will be on my way to the coast,” the PRO deputy is alleged to have said to two aides at the Casablanca café close to Congress.

Called to testify as witnesses by Capuchetti, both aides initially denied the meeting ("they lied," the video alleges) but later, when CCTV footage proved that they had been at the cafe on the date in question, they denied that the deputy had uttered that phrase.

Milman later  filed a brief to the same effect, and the judge chose not to advance with other lines of investigation on that particular fact.

"Milman has not yet been called to testify," says the narrator in the video.

Now Fernández de Kirchner has reproached the judge for not taking any action on the  conduct of the witnesses, alleging the lack of inquiry is part of a plot against her.

 

Milman denial

Reacting to the allegations, Milman fervently denied he was part of a plot to kill the vice-president, while accusing Fernández de Kirchner of “inventing false witnesses.”

"The false witness is a former legislator of Santa Fe and advisor to a deputy of La Cámpora,” he said in an interview with a local radio station. 

Although Milman admitted that he did travel to Pinamar the day after the attack, he clarified that the night Sabag Montiel tried to shoot the former president "I was in Buenos Aires." He went on to compare the situation to the furore surrounding the 2017 death of Santiago Maldonado.

"I was Patricia Bullrich's deputy security minister and at the time we lived through the Maldonado case and we saw for months that they gathered in crowded squares” he said.

"A witness said that he had seen with binoculars how the Border Guard had disappeared him; that false testimony made many Argentines believe that there were disappeared people, with the connotation that this has for Argentina," he added.

The opposition PRO party also issued a statement in which they repudiated the accusations of the former head of state and described them as "unfounded.”

"Once again Cristina Kirchner uses an event of the utmost institutional gravity to accuse national deputies without grounds,” it read.

"Once again, and as has become customary on the part of Kirchnerism, they mount unfounded stories to attack members of the opposition, the independent press and any institution that does not form part of their power structure," concluded the text.

The recusal brief against the judge had not yet entered the Comodoro Py courthouse at press time.

 

– TIMES/AFP/NA

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