Members of different social organizations, including the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, took seats in the courtroom to show their support for Fernandez.
Former Argentinian President and current Vice President-elect Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner appeared in a Buenos Aires court Monday and said she was a victim of persecution instigated by outgoing President Mauricio Macri.
The 66-year-old Fernandez, who served as Argentina’s president from 2007 to 2015, said the trial was a “master class” in judicial persecution.
“The role played in different areas by the technical and non-technical areas of the government in putting together this systematic plan is what is known as lawfare,” Fernandez, who is the widow of President Nestor Kirchner, said.
On Oct. 27, Fernandez was on the Peronist Party ticket that won the presidential election, making Alberto Fernandez Argentina’s next head of state.
Monday’s hearing, the first in which the vice president-elect has testified, started on May 21.
Prosecutors allege that Fernandez steered public works contracts in Santa Cruz, where Kirchner was born and launched his political career, to companies controlled by Baez, a close supporter of hers and her late husband Nestor Kirchner.
“I, who am accused of criminal conspiracy, that is, of being the leader of a gang, who met to commit crimes in an undetermined and indiscriminate manner, can they tell me the places of the meetings?” Fernandez asked.
She added that the “outgoing administration” set up a “judicial bureau” where they even decided “who gets arrested, who doesn’t get arrested, which businessman you had to squeeze to get companies out of him, and later, when they got angry with other businessmen, they went after more businessmen.”
“First, they went after one, then after another, and when they went after me, it was already too late,” the politician, who is the subject of several arrest warrants that have not been served yet because she had parliamentary immunity as a sitting senator, said.
Fernandez, as she had in documents filed previously with the courts handling her cases, said she was innocent and that the charges were unfounded.
“During multiple hearings, briefs, we had asked that all public works in the Argentinian Republic be audited and our request was systematically denied,” the former president said.
“If a gang was really formed, what need did I have to bring in a construction businessman, if I had all the businessmen of the republic?” Fernandez told the federal court in Buenos Aires.
The Vice President-elect criticized the way the arrest warrants were issued for her, saying that she spent two years without parliamentary immunity out of her own choice and was later accused in the media of running for a Senate seat to protect herself.
On May 18, three days before the trial started, she proposed to Alberto Fernandez, who served as Cabinet chief under both her and her husband, that they run for the presidency because the Macri administration “had aligned itself with the judges.”
Fernandez reviewed the measures taken against her, including freezes placed on bank accounts and real estate, and forcing her to pick between a widow’s pension and a presidential pension, by the courts.
“They also interfered with the estate of Nestor Kirchner, something unseen before. The estate of a person who died has been intervened ... these are measures that clearly violated existing laws, the rule of law, and also the rights of people,” Fernandez said.
The former president opened her testimony by ripping the court for rejecting her request to televize the hearing.
The court had allowed the May 21 hearing and subsequent hearings to be televised.
On Monday morning, defense attorney Carlos Berladi filed a motion with the court, asking once again that Fernandez’s testimony be televised.
Last week, the defense made a similar request, but the motion was rejected by a federal criminal court, which ruled that the parts of Fernandez’s testimony that could be broadcast by media outlets had already been determined by the courts.