Security Minister Aníbal Fernández has revealed that he offered his resignation to the president in the wake of the failed shooting attack on Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and that the proposal was rejected.
"I am a gentleman and when this thing happened, the first thing I told the president was that I was willing, when he decided to do so, to remove me" from office, he said in comments to reports on Monday.
President Alberto Fernández rejected the officer, he added.
Fernández de Kirchner survived an apparent assassination attempt as she mingled with supporters outside her home last Thursday night when a gun brandished by 35-year-old Brazilian national Fernando Andre Sabag Montiel failed to fire.
Aníbal Fernández has come under fierce criticism in the wake of the failed attack, with many querying how the gunman managed to get so close to the vice-president while armed.
Defending the security forces and Federal Police, the minister said that protocols to protect the Senate chief had “been correctly complied with," despite the failed shooting attempt.
"There is a photo where it is clearly seen as if it was [number] five on a dice: the vice-president in the middle and four men from the Federal Police around her," he said, adding that it is "very difficult" to protect against an attack of this type in an "open situation" with large crowds, especially given as Sabag Montiel had mingled with supporters of the vice-president in the lead-up to the attack.
Responding to questioning regarding the suspect’s mobile phone – which, according to reports in local outlets, has been reset to factory settings – Fernández defended the Federal Police officers who were at the scene, saying they “did not tamper” with Sabag Montiel’s device. He said investigators were looking into the matter.
"What they did was to pick it up, put it in a Faraday bag – they create an electromagnetic field so that it cannot be accessed remotely – and send it to the Court,” he said.
Fernández went on to give an account of the actions of the Federal Police officers who were near the former president's apartment building in Recoleta in the wake of the attack.
"Our officers arrived, all the superintendents were there, an unprecedented event, the tents were set up, we worked step-by-step on each of the issues,” he said.
Sabag Montiel “was stripped naked, we worked with forensic investigators, as appropriate. And then at some point the phone is sent in what is known as a Faraday bag” to protect the device from interference,” explained the head of the Security Ministry.
"The phone is sent in a Faraday bag, and in court, the judge gives us a receipt that says it was received with the chain of custody intact. That's as far as our task goes. After that I don't know what happens [to it]. The judge and the prosecutor have the power to make decisions per se, which I don't know," he continued.
The officers who handled the phone have already testified about their involvement with the mobile phone. To date, Judge María Eugenia Capuchetti and Prosecutor Carlos Rívolo – who are overseeing the investigation into the failed shooting attempt – have not opened a probe against any of the officers involved in the chain of custody of the Samsung A50 device owned by Sabag Montiel.
Two specialists from the Airport Security Police (PSA) were also included in attempts to unlock the phone and gain access to the data it holds.