Latin America & Caribbean

Argentina ex-leader Cristina Fernandez appears in court

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner waves at a large crowd of supporters while protected by a human barrier outside the court. Image copyright AP
Image caption Ms Fernandez greeted a large crowd of supporters after her court appearance

Former Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has made her first appearance in court over corruption allegations, claiming she is a victim of political persecution.

Ms Fernandez's government has been accused of steering public contracts to a businessman close to her family.

But she asked the judge to annul the case, saying the government was using the case to cover up its failures.

She also accused current President Mauricio Macri of plotting against her.

Mr Macri's government was like "a terrorist organisation", she said, and the charges against her were designed "to hide Argentina's socio-economic disaster".

The charges relate to alleged money-laundering by a businessman who received public works contracts during Ms Fernandez's time in power. It is alleged he used his companies to launder money for Ms Fernandez and her husband, late president Nestor Kirchner.

The former president presented the national budget documents to court as part of her evidence, highlighting that the accounts had been approved by parliamentary bodies and the country's auditor general.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Jose Lopez, centre, a former minister in Ms Fernandez's government, is accused of money-laundering

She also compared her case to that of former Brazilian president Lula da Silva, who is accused of corruption in connection with the state oil firm Petrobras.

Ms Fernandez is currently one of the main leaders of the opposition to the government of Mr Macri, who took over from her last year.

Hundreds of supporters gathered outside the court, clashing with police as Ms Fernandez was leaving in her vehicle.

There was some minor disruption when Ms Fernandez attempted to mingle with her supporters. She later posted video of the incident to Facebook, and labelled the police operation as "disproportionate".

Ms Fernandez is also accused of making fraudulent currency transactions during her time in office, after allegedly ordering irregular central bank transactions in the US dollars futures market.

In June, a former minister in her government, Jose Lopez, was caught throwing bags filled with almost $9m over the walls of a monastery, and was arrested on suspicion of money laundering.

In July, Ms Fernandez's assets were frozen by a judge in Buenos Aires in connection with the currency transaction allegations.

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