Argentina's VP criticizes judge after raid

AP News
Posted: Apr 05, 2012 6:39 PM
Argentina's VP criticizes judge after raid

Argentina's vice president said Thursday that he's a victim of a misguided judicial investigation and slanted news coverage after authorities raided an apartment he owns.

A judge has been overseeing an investigation into whether Vice President Amado Boudou used his influence while he was economy minister in 2010 to help the printing company Ciccone Calcografica get out of bankruptcy and favor it with government contracts.Boudou told reporters that he is innocent and took "no action to favor Ciccone."

An apartment owned by the vice president was raided Wednesday by authorities who are investigating the accusations.

Boudou called Judge Daniel Rafecasa "vaudeville" judge and said the raid ordered by the judge at the request of prosecutors was "judicial trash."

The vice president also criticized the Argentine media conglomerate Grupo Clarin and the newspaper La Nacion for their coverage of the case, accusing them of behaving like anti-government mafias. Both news organizations have often clashed with President Cristina Fernandez's government.

"Clarin attacks institutions in an illegal way," Boudou said at a news conference where he didn't take questions.

He complained that judicial authorities have been releasing details of the investigation. "The courts in Argentina are news agencies for the most powerful media organizations," he said.

Boudou said that despite "attacks against the government ... we will keep busy with Argentina's real issues."

Opposition politicians criticized the vice president for defending himself by attacking the authorities who are investigating.

The apartment owned by Boudou is in Buenos Aires' posh Puerto Madero neighborhood. Rafecas has said it was rented by Boudou to Fabian Carosso Donatiello, a partner and friend of the businessman Alejandro Vandenbroele, who heads the printing company, which has changed its name to Compania Sudamericana de Valores.

The raid appeared to be part of attempts by the investigating judge to determine whether Boudou had ties to Vandenbroele. The vice president has denied knowing the businessman.

Rafecas said in an interview with the Argentine newspaper Perfil this week that authorities have not found evidence of a direct relationship between the two men.

The investigation began after Vandenbroele's former wife, Laura Munoz, said in news interviews that the businessman was a front man for the vice president.

In recent weeks, the judge has ordered raids to search for evidence in the homes of Vandenbroele and his ex-wife and at the office of the business The Old Fund SA, which now holds a majority ownership stake in Compania Sudamericana de Valores.