08 Jul 2020
A former private secretary to Argentina’s vice-president has been murdered, fuelling speculation that he was targeted for being a whistleblower in a corruption case.
The body of Fabián Gutiérrez, 48, who for years worked closely with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and later testified against her, was found at a house on the outskirts of El Calafate in Patagonia on Saturday, two days after he went missing. Four people have been arrested.
Opposition politicians claim that he was killed for his role in uncovering a landmark corruption case known as the cuadernos, or notebooks, scandal. Officials with the centre-right Juntos por el Cambio coalition have demanded that the murder investigation be passed on to the federal court, on the grounds that a prosecutor involved in the case, Natalia Mercado, is a niece of the vice-president.
“The crime of Fabián Gutiérrez is of enormous institutional gravity and cannot be left to the prosecutor Mercado, daughter of governor Alicia Kirchner,” they said in a statement.
Dozens of Argentinian politicians and businessmen have been arrested and jailed in the notebooks investigation, accused of taking bribes worth hundreds of millions of dollars for public works contracts.
For ten years a government driver, Oscar Centeno, claimed he had kept eight notebooks in which he recorded his collections and deliveries of more than $160 million in “black money” to properties across Buenos Aires. Ms Kirchner’s private home and the presidential residence are alleged to appear in his notes.
The money exchanges were said to have been carried out over at least a decade, including during Ms Kirchner’s time as president, from 2007 to 2015, and in the years before that when her husband, Néstor, was president. He died in 2010.
By Lucinda Elliott, The Times, 7 July 2020
Read more at The Times
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