ARGENTINA NEWS ROUND-UP

What we learned this week: Grassi 2x1, Nisman, Abril

Key stories from the last seven days.

Echegaray is transported by police to court.
Echegaray is transported by police to court. Foto:Télam.
PARADISE PAPERS

Offshore tax havens returned to the limelight at the start of last week with the Paradise Papers following in the footsteps of the Panama Papers 18 months ago on an even bigger scale (see Pages 4-7). At least two ministers – Luis Caputo (Finance) and Juan José Aranguren (Energy) – have entered the firing-line in the immediate fallout. Both the Panama and Paradise Papers are the work of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).


CHURCH CHILD ABUSER GRASSI GETS 2X1

Father Julio César Grassi had nearly two years knocked off his 15-year sentence for child abuse this week when the Morón appeals court acceded to applying the so-called “2x1” rule in his favour (this rule granted two days off the final sentence for every day spent in pre-trial detention beyond two years). The court ruling will be appealed by the plaintiff on the grounds that the “2x1” law was repealed in 2001 while Grassi was first arrested in 2002. Until his arrest Grassi had run the best-known children’s home in the country, Felices los Niños (“Happy Kids”). In related news, Father Luis Lenzi, 67, was removed from President Mauricio Macri’s old school Cardenal Newman (founded by Ireland’s Christian Brothers) for “irregular situations” with his pupils.

Meanwhile San Isidro Bishop Oscar Ojea, 71, the socially aware head of Cáritas charity who has taken a firmer line than most against priestly perversion within his diocese, became the new chairman of the Argentine Synod on Tuesday.


MACRI IN NYC

President Mauricio Macri spent three days of last week in New York City where he wooed investors and Wall Street at the Council of the Americas as well as more private venues. Macri also paid tribute to the five Rosario victims of a Halloween terrorist attack on the banks of the Hudson River (see Page 9).


GILS CARBÓ DECIDES TO GO

One of the most basic principles of legal systems (shared by Argentina’s Criminal Procedural Code) – that family members cannot testify against each other – has been challenged by the children and families of the repressors of the 1976-83 military dictatorship, who are claiming the right to testify against the legal parents who forcibly adopted them after the extermination of their real procreators. A bill to that effect was submitted to Congress on Tuesday.


D’ELIA HANDED FOUR YEARS

Kirchnerite picket leader Luis D’Elía was sentenced on Tuesday to four years in prison for overrunning a Boca police station in the winter of 2004 but will remain free until the sentence is confirmed. The invasion was prompted by the death of a picket since D’Elía accused the precinct of being in connivance with drug-traffickers, holding the policemen responsible. The prosecution had requested a 54-month sentence in the longrunning trial.


THIS WEEK IN CORRUPTION

Senator-elect Cristina Fernández de Kirchner made yet another court appearance on Thursday to testify in the Hotesur money-laundering case with her children Máximo and Florencia summoned for next week. This case revolves around accusations that crony capitalists awarded lucrative public works contracts returned the favour by paying fabricated bills in the Patagonian hotel chain of the Kirchner family (Pink House occupants between 2003 and 2015). Fernández de Kirchner had nothing to say to Federal Judge Julián Ercolini but presented a written statement. Meanwhile the ex-president was dubbed “inhuman” by Alejandra Minnicelli,the wife of detained ex-minister Julio De Vido (the factotum of all public works contracts during the Kirchner presidencies). In other developments, Ariel Lijo – the brother of Federal Judge Ariel Lijo, in charge of many Kirchnerite corruption cases and widely accused of soft-pedalling them – has been denounced for having US$ 1.7 million in a Swiss bank account. Finally, former vice-president Amado Boudou, detained in connection with major corruption scandals, now finds a previous acquittal over fraudulent car papers reversed.


NISMAN CASE BACK IN NEWS

Diego Lagomarsino – the computer technician who gave Alberto Nisman the gun which ended his life early in 2015 – has been summoned to testify next Tuesday, while Prosecutor Eduardo Taiano says the death was a murder (see Page 8).


HORROR IN LA PLATA

A 12-year-old girl, Abril Bogado, was coming up the drive of her home in the La Plata suburb of Ringuelet along with her family in the small hours of Sunday after a wedding party but never entered the house – she was shot in the head by criminals trying to steal the car. Abril was buried amid scenes of intense grief the following day. On the same day there were two arrests for a slaying which shocked the nation – José Edgardo Echegaray, who had been released from prison two years ago after doing time for attempted murder, and a 17-yearold accomplice. They claimed that the fatal shot had been accidental.


JUEZ CLEANED OUT

Córdoba politician Luis Juez is no longer Argentine ambassador to Quito after having excused a late election campaign event appearance last month by saying that he had taken the trouble to shower first, unlike the “filthy” people of Ecuador. Yet instead of falling into disgrace, he is now tipped for a Defence Ministry post according to government sources.


INDALO TROUBLE

A hectic week in the troubled waters of Cristobal López’s Indalo Group. With salary payments and severance cheques being skipped all over the place, C5N’s star host Victor Hugo denounced the company for now paying salaries live on air. Meanwhile, multiple radio stations went silent for hours in protest at their lack of payment and Marcelo Tinelli rescinded his contract with the group.




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