December 21, 2014
Campagnoli decision postponed until July 17
Tribunal fails to reach an agreement on substitute juror, agrees to delay resolutions
The impeachment tribunal that has to decide the future of suspended prosecutor José María Campagnoli postponed for another 10 days a highly-awaited decision on how to proceed and will resume its activities on July 17, when it will approve — or not — the appointment of a new juror and a request by Campagnoli’s defence to lift the prosecutor’s suspension.
“The tribunal could not reach an agreement regarding the substitute juror,” a source from the tribunal told news portal Infojus in reference to the new member of the tribunal following the prolonged absence of juror María Cristina Martínez Córdoba.
Martínez Córdoba — a children’s court defence lawyer — resigned from the tribunal last Wednesday after a period of stress-related sick leave, leaving a void that could not be filled yesterday.
The decision to appoint a substitute was “stuck at a standstill” in a three-to-three tie and tribunal members could not even begin to discuss the situation of Leandro Miño, a juror who was nominated to replace Martínez Córdoba, judicial sources told private news agency DyN.
They also failed to discuss a request made by Campagnoli’s legal defence to lift the prosecutor’s suspension and the debate over the date when the proceedings against the suspended prosecutor could start over.
The trial was also marred by a claim filed by Ciudadanos Libres por la Calidad Institucional (Free Citizens for Institutional Quality), a small NGO which called for the destitution of the president of the impeachment tribunal, Daniel Adler, on the grounds he had not forced substitute jurors to all the hearings in the trial — a turn of events that would have prevented the current situation.
Campagnoli’s defence — led by fomer Radical Party (UCR) lawmaker Ricardo Gil Lavedra — had demanded last week that the suspended prosecutor be reinstalled in his post. But for this to happen, the tribunal must first be complete in order to rule on a number of crossed legal challenges.
What to expect
The first issue the tribunal will have to decide when it resumes its deliberations on July 17 is the appointment of the new juror.
Last Friday, the Public Defender’s office appointed 35-year-old Nicolás Toselli (who had yet to be appointed a public defender when the impeachment trial began). The other candidate, Leonardo Miño, who was Martínez Córdoba’s alternate, is a member of the Magistrates Association — which had originally voiced its criticism of the case against Campagnoli — and was recused by the Public Prosecutor’s Office last week.
Once the jurors resolve the issue of Martínez Córdoba’s replacement, they are then expected to push forth with plans to re-launch the proceedings into accusations Campagnoli committed malfeasance and infringed the jurisdiction of a colleague investigating Kirchnerite public works tycoon Lázaro Báez.
The opposition insists that accusations against Campagnoli are politically motivated and are aimed at preventing members of the judiciary from investigating government corruption.
The question is now when a new trial might begin. There is one clear requirement — it has to take place by October, when the charges against Campagnoli expire.
However, Gil Lavedra claimed he will continue pushing for Campagnoli’s reinstatement as a prosecutor because — he argues — the responsibility for the case having collapsed lies solely in the hands of the tribunal.
Earlier this week, the prosecution downplayed the defence’s chances of getting what it wants.
“Beyond what the defence says, the (Procedural) Code establishes that a suspended case must be held again,” lead prosecutor Adolfo Villate told La Nación newspaper.
Herald staff with DyN, Télam