BUENOS AIRES (AP) – Prosecutors on Monday asked a judge to sentence Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernández to 12 years in prison and bar her from holding public office for life for allegedly leading a criminal conspiracy that irregularly awarded public works contracts to a friend and ally.
“We are faced with the biggest corruption manoeuvre that this country has ever known,” prosecutor Diego Luciani said in his closing arguments in the trial of Fernández, who was president of Argentina from 2007 and 2015, before becoming vice president in 2019.
The alleged fraud against the state cost the country’s coffers around USD1 billion, Luciani said.
The former president vehemently denied charges against her in the three-year trial and has said the judges already have the sentence against her “written and even signed”.
Fernández characterised the trial as an effort to use the courts to stop her from ever holding elected office again and her allies have characterised it as a political prosecution.
The presidential office came out in support of Fernández, saying she is the victim of a “persecution by the courts and media”.
Current President Alberto Fernández also expressed “solidarity” with his number two in a social media post.
Luciani told judges they will have the final say on whether “corruption or justice” prevails.
Although Fernández has faced numerous accusations of corruption for events that took place while she was in office, this marks the first time a trial against the former president has gotten this far to include a prosecutor formally requesting a sentence.
Fernández, 69, is accused of leading a conspiracy that involved awarding 51 public works contracts for roadworks to Lázaro Báez in southern Santa Cruz province. Many of those public works were never finished.