Former official of Argentina's Fernandez stripped of immunity

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 25, 2017 2:03 PM

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - An ex-minister who served in former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez's government was stripped of his parliamentary immunity on Wednesday, clearing the way for his arrest and marking a milestone in the country's anti-corruption fight.

Congress voted to strip former planning minister and current lawmaker Julio De Vido of his immunity after a three-judge panel ordered his arrest as part of a probe into an alleged case of fraud. [nL2N1MS12F]

The move means he can legally be immediately arrested. Local television showed police entering his apartment on Wednesday afternoon.

The judges said last week De Vido should be jailed to prevent him fleeing or interfering with the case.

If that happens, he would be the most powerful official from the 2007-2015 Fernandez era to be jailed. Corruption allegations have dogged her government and isolated her politically ahead of a Senate race on Oct. 22. [nL2N1MX09T]

De Vido is under investigation in a case involving the Patagonian coal mine Rio Turbio, which prosecutors say is underproducing despite receiving multi-million dollar investments from the state. He has denied any wrongdoing.

He was in charge of running energy infrastructure projects under Fernandez, a left-leaning populist who was succeeded by business-friendly President Mauricio Macri in late 2015.

Fernandez, the subject of corruption investigations herself, has acknowledged there was likely corruption during her government but denies personal involvement. [nL1N1EM133]

(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)