One of the last hearings of the trial for corruption in public works in which Cristina Kirchner and Lázaro Báez are judged ended in scandal. A witness caught the attention of the prosecution and the judges and raised suspicions that his testimony was “scripted.”
This is Justo Pastor Romero, who is still an employee of the National Highway Administration Office – he joined in 2014 – and who previously worked for the General Public Administration Office of the Nation.
The man began to testify until he began to draw attention to some papers that he had in his hand and that he was reading as he began his testimonial statement. He was trying to refute, with his testimony, the concentration of bids of 86% that, according to the imputation, had the Austral Group, and the average premiums of 65%. But the truth is that a witness is not allowed to declare with notes or by reading a document what aroused all kinds of accusations about the veracity of his testimony and whether he was not really “scripted.”
“The witness begins to read notes that he describes as his own, on official data of the prices of the updated amounts of all the works in Santa Cruz taken from the DNV system that, according to what he refers, were provided by the accountant Marcelo Guillermo Bianchi ”, it appears in the record of the trial to which he agreed Clarion.
The situation lent itself to suspicion. Those annotations that the witness Romero was reading, They sought to refute the alleged existence of surcharges in the works that Lázaro Báez obtained. That was when Juan Villanueva, lawyer for businessman K, asked that those documents that Romero had in his hands be incorporated as evidence in the trial. The prosecutor before the Court, Diego Luciani, expressed his concern about the content of the statement, and above all, “in relation to the simile expert opinion that the witness tries to read, by him, on alleged calculations of surcharges, an estimate that minutes before the The same declarant described it as being of a higher complexity ”, it appears in the minutes.
Lázaro Báez, Julio De Vido, Nelson Periotti and Cristina Kirchner in the background in the trial for corruption in public works. Photo Maxi Failla.
The prosecutor continued with his claim and said that a witness was being assisted “Whose bias and partiality is worrying, based on the fact that the witness makes an estimate of his own accord, regardless of any court order, that none of the parties present has been able to control, much less corroborate, thereby affecting the right of defense in court ”. For these reasons, the representative of the Public Ministry asked the Court to “Redirect the witness statement and exclude the kind of investigation that Mr. Romero carried out on his own account and outside the authorization of the Court ”.
Romero sought to dismiss the numbers of the surcharges with his annotations, something that was rejected by the prosecutor who had the support of the lawyer of the Financial Information Unit (UIF), Federico Bazzani, who in a writing, to which he agreed Clarion, argued that there was a marked “irregularity noted in the statement of the referred witness, whereas his testimony, far from being spontaneous and resulting from the evocation of his memory, was based fundamentally on said evidence, in frank contravention “of what the Criminal Procedure Code proposes.
Likewise, the attorney for the State agency indicated that the document that various defenses, including that of Báez, asked to incorporate, “does not satisfy the requirements of the Criminal Procedure Code. Indeed, according to this rule, the evidence to be introduced cannot be anyone but only that which is evidently vital and relevant as a result of the contradiction that occurred in the debate, a situation very different from the way in which this document was “discovered” in the last hearing ”.
In the same sense, the lawyer Lucas Trigo, of the OA, who in his brief, he stated that a witness “cannot read his testimony. In any case, you may read, if the court authorizes it, some part of a previous statement or some fragment of a document that will bear your signature, to refresh your memory – the code of procedures says – but in no case can he sit in front of the podium and read a testimony that he has prepared in advance ”.
It was then that the OA indicated that since it was not a document that was already incorporated into the case and that neither party was aware of, “the witness could not proceed to read it, and this position was confirmed by the court at the hearing.” . The complaint understood that their later incorporation “cannot be admitted from the formal point of view because it in no way turns out to be a supervening test (…). It is not something new nor does it have any relation to the matter in which the witness Romero was being interrogated ”.
The businessman K Lázaro Báex and his son Martín accused of corruption.
Regarding the content of the manuscripts that supported the absence of the alleged surcharges, the prosecutor Luciani, the lawyers of the OA and the UIF, agreed by stating that these notes “are impertinent and that they have nothing to do with the object of debate in this trial. These statements about updated prices in dollars, without having any type of inflationary, arbitrary adjustment, and without any verification, cannot in any way be taken into account by the Court ”.
The National Highway Directorate (DNV) of the previous administration, among other aspects, estimated that the surcharges that Báez received were around 65% and that the delays in the works were not justified.