Argentinian president criticizes treatment of vice president’s supporters

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LONDON

Argentina’s president on Saturday criticized the government of the city of Buenos Aires over the treatment of supporters of Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner during protests.

Demonstrators protested days after prosecutors sought a 12-year prison sentence for de Kirchner on corruption charges.

Alberto Fernandez criticized the city government, which he said wanted to restrict “free movement near the vice president’s home”.

“I express my strongest rejection of the institutional violence unleashed by the municipal government in the face of a massive demonstration of citizens speaking freely and in democracy,” Fernandez wrote on Twitter.

Five police officers were injured and four arrests were made during demonstrations in support of de Kirchner.

Thousands of people came to his defense on Saturday, mobilizing across Argentina.

The largest protests took place outside Kirchner’s residence in the Recoleta neighborhood, where police had previously erected fencing to prevent mass protests.

In the afternoon, supporters toppled fences as fire hydrant trucks and tear gas were used against the crowd, according to local news agency Telam.

Fernandez argued that the police operation “far from contributing to the invoked peace, generated a climate of insecurity and intimidation”.

He insisted that the authorities and security forces “must work to ensure the safety of citizens, avoiding creating contexts of hostility in the face of massive mobilizations” and maintain peace and guarantee freedom of expression. to all citizens is an “institutional responsibility”.

Fernandez described what he called the “harassment” of de Kirchner and called for him to stop.

De Kirchner remains a divisive figure in the Argentine political landscape, adored by supporters and hated by detractors.

She was accused on Monday of awarding fraudulent and overvalued public works contracts in the southern province of Santa Cruz during her two terms as president from 2007 to 2015.

Many contracts are said to have benefited close allies of the Kirchner family, some of whom have been found guilty of corruption.

Prosecutors also called for a “special lifetime disqualification” from public office for Kirchner, who enjoys political immunity as the current vice president and president of the Senate.

She vehemently denied the charges and criticized the country’s justice system.

Kirchner described waking up to find her home “besieged” on Saturday.

“They want to prohibit absolutely peaceful and joyful demonstrations of love and support, which take place before the inevitable prosecution of the legal party,” she wrote on her website.

Kirchner’s conviction is expected to be revealed in a few months, although some believe she could appeal to higher courts, which would likely extend the time to reach a final verdict.

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