Argentina's vice president defends herself over corruption allegations

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner denounces ‘incredible lies’ by federal prosecutors who want 12-year prison sentence.

Argentina's vice president defends herself over corruption allegations

Argentina's Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner defended herself Friday against alleged graft charges in awarding public works and criticized the "incredible lies" by federal prosecutors.

De Kirchner spoke to the court via Zoom for an hour and 20 minutes from her office in the Senate as she raised questions about the "arbitrariness" of the trial and labeled the allegations "nonsense."

The vice-president also hit out at federal prosecutors, accusing them of lying and described the allegations as "profoundly unconstitutional, anti-republican and anti-federal. "She described the trial as "a clear case of malfeasance" and rebuffed claims of criminality during her and her husband's presidency.

"The people elected the governments, the three governments, the one headed by Nestor Kirchner and those headed by me -- we were elected by the people. We cannot be an illicit association," she said.

De Kirchner previously argued that the trial is a political witch-hunt and on Friday appeared to cast doubts on the judiciary. "From Sept. 1 (the day of the attempted assassination) I realized that there may be another thing behind all the stigmatization and attempts to ban me," said de Kirchner. "Suddenly, it's as if the judicial sphere is giving social license so that anyone can think and do anything."

Federal prosecutors accuse de Kirchner of awarding fraudulent and overpriced public works contracts in the southern province of Santa Cruz during her two-term tenure as president from 2007 - 2015 and have been pushing for a 12-year jail sentence and a lifetime ban from holding public office.

Many of the contracts allegedly benefitted close allies of the Kirchner family, with some already convicted of corruption.

The sentence against Kirchner is expected in months, although some say she could appeal to higher courts, which would likely extend the time considerably in reaching a final verdict.

Hüseyin Demir