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News > Latin America

Argentina: 4th Trial Against Social Leader Milagro Sala Begins

  • Mothers of Plaza de Mayo demand freedom for Milagro Sala during a 2017 protest.

    Mothers of Plaza de Mayo demand freedom for Milagro Sala during a 2017 protest. | Photo: EFE

Published 7 November 2018

Since 2016, Sala has been accused of illicit association, fraud, extortion, and attempted murder.

The fourth trial against Argentine Indigenous leader Milagro Sala begins Wednesday for the case known as the “Azopardo shooting,” which took place in 2007. Sala, who is considered Mauricio Macri’s first political prisoner, was implicated in this case nine years after the fact.

EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Indigenous Social Leader Milagro Sala

She is being accused of being the co-author of attempted murder, aggravated by payment. She is accused of having paid a man named Fabian Avila to kill neighborhood leader Alberto Cardozo, who was recently detained.

According to the accusations, Sala paid Avila with a "house of her property." 

An 11-year-old girl was badly wounded during the shootout that broke out as a result of the alleged attempted murder.

The charge against Sala was formulated after she was implicated by the main accused, Jorge Rafel Paes, in exchange for his freedom. Two policemen witnessed Paes in the scene of the crime. His testimony is the prosecution’s main evidence against her.  

The hearings will take place every Wednesday between Nov. 7 and Dec. 9 and will be headed by judges Claudia Sadir, Monica Cruz, and Liliana Pellegrini. According to official sources, at least 20 witnesses will testify throughout the hearings.   

Sala is also being investigated for alleged illicit association, fraud, and extortion, crimes she was charged with days after being detained in early 2016 for allegedly instigating violence during a protest against Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales, which she didn't attend.    

Sala’s defense has argued that this charge is a part of the series of accusations related to Morales’ fury against the social and political leader.  

“This process has the same logic than the other initiated or reactivated after her arbitrary detention in January 2016. These are files that were in processing a long time, in which Milagro was not included and suddenly someone accuses Milagro in exchange for a benefit, like in this case with Jorge Rafael Paes,” Elizabeth Gomez, member of Sala’s legal team said.

Sala led the Tupac Amaru Organization, which provides housing and other services to informal workers and working-class sectors, she served as an Argentine legislator between 2013 and 2015 and was later elected by the Front for Victory Party, led by former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, to Mercosur’s parliament.

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