Latin America & Caribbean

Argentina ex-president Fernandez de Kirchner defies court

Argentine former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner delivers a speech before supporters gathering in front of the Comodoro Py courthouse where she testified before federal judge Claudio Bonadio over corruption allegations, in Buenos Aires on April 13, 2016. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner spoke to thousands of supporters outside the Comodoro Py courthouse in Buenos Aires

The former Argentine President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has refused to testify at a court hearing into fraud allegations.

Outside the court in the capital Buenos Aires, she told supporters she was being persecuted.

The judge is looking into why the Central Bank decided to sell dollars at an artificially low price in the months before she left office.

He has ten days to decide whether to charge her.

He says the move cost the state billions of dollars and allowed buyers to make a lot of money on the transaction.

Emerging from the courthouse, Ms Fernandez gave a stirring hour-long speech to the crowds. She suggested she and other leftist leaders in the region had been unfairly accused of corruption by a "media, political and judicial matrix".

She said she had refused to testify and had given the judge a written statement that said the case against her rested on "an abuse of judicial power".

Ms Fernandez said she had nothing to hide: "They can call me [to testify] 20 times. They can lock me up but they won't make me stop saying what I think."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Supporters of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner carried placards calling for her not to be touched by corruption allegations.

Her former Economy minister, Axel Kicillof, was questioned about the case on Tuesday morning.

He defended the political and economic decisions made during the administration of Cristina Kirchner.

"All central banks in the world carry out control practices," he said. "It is a normal and regular operation in foreign exchange policy."

Cristina Fernandez, who was in power between 2007 and 2015, does not have parliamentary immunity.

Her supporters say she is innocent of many allegations that have dogged her and her administration for years.

Ms Fernandez is also a suspect in an investigation into money-laundering during her administration involving a close friend and business associate of both herself and her late husband Nestor Kirchner, who was president from 2003 to 2007.

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