Argentina’s Supreme Court suspended former leftist president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s corruption case Wednesday, putting her one step closer to running again in this year’s presidential election.
The prosecution will not have their case progress to trial unless they submit a convincing casefile presenting sufficient evidence of wrongdoing.
Kirchner, who led Argentina from 2007 to 2015 following the death of her husband Néstor, faced allegations of embezzling government funds meant for infrastructure projects. She has also been accused of multiple other crimes, including her alleged involvement in the murder of a prosecutor investigating claims she had covered up Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) headquarters in Buenos Aires.
The process of analyzing the evidence will delay the start of the hearings, according to judicial sources, until at least August and may last until the end of the year, thus allowing her to run against incumbent conservative President Mauricio Macri.
The decision sparked immediate criticism from the Macri administration, whose Justice Minister Germán Garavano described it as a “very unusual ruling” influenced by a “strong political ingredient.”
“What is worrying is that this impedes a trial and that our Judiciary has a tendency toward never reaching trial stage. This is one of its biggest deficits,” he said. “Evidently, politics has too much influence over the Judiciary.”
Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña said the decision “prompts anger in society because there is a strong demand for justice to be served” after street protests broke out in Buenos Aires against the decision.
“I do not offer opinions as to the motivation of the Court but it does leave a feeling among many people that impunity is possible,” he said in a radio interview.
As noted by the Buenos Aires Times, Kirchner recently renewed speculation that she may run in next year’s presidential election after she met with with the national leadership of the left-wing Justicialist Party (PJ) this week. She later told reporters that she is making herself “available” to the group, which she described as a “patriotic front.”
“We had a very pleasant visit from the former president of the nation, who wanted to come and talk with the national leadership, and we listened to the former compañera [comrade], whom we have never doubted,” said PJ President José Luis Gioja at a press conference after the meeting. “[I do not know] whether compañera Cristina Kirchner is going to be a candidate, but I do know that she will have a central role.”