Argentina's vice president denies wrongdoing

Amado Boudou is accused of buying a bankrupt company that later won a contract to print national currency.

    Argentina's vice president has clarified every point of a criminal corruption investigation, denying any wrongdoing and claiming he was a victim of a negative media campaign.

    Amado Boudou, 51, was questioned in court on Monday over allegations that he bought a bankrupt Ciccone Calcografia in 2010 - when he was an economy minister - through associates to negotiate contracts with the state and the ruling party to print money and official documents.

    Arriving for a closed-door hearing, Boudou said he was at peace with himself and had come "to tell the truth."

    The judge also plans to question other defendants and witnesses this week before deciding whether to formally charge the vice president or dismiss the case.

    A conviction on the charges facing Boudou could carry a penalty of one to six years in prison and a lifetime ban from public office.

    However, as president of the Senate, he can not be arrested unless he is fired by the legislature, which is controlled by the ruling party.

    Hurdles to the hearing

    The government tried to use its influence in the judiciary to derail the case. The original prosecutor and judge were removed, and an attorney general who approved a search warrant for Boudou's apartment was forced to resign.

    But Ariel Lijo, federal judge, finally resolved to question Boudou in a closed-door hearing - the first time since Argentina restored democracy in 1983 that a sitting vice president has been ordered to answer criminal allegations.

    "I'm really sorry that it wasn't possible to broadcast my declaration on live TV. In just a little bit the entire transcript will be posted on my Facebook page," Boudou said.

    The vice president had tried twice to record his testimony for television, saying wanted to clear his name and did not trust the judge, whom he accused of leaking evidence to opposition newspapers.

    The judge denied the request, citing court secrecy laws, and said all citizens are equal under Argentina's constitution, which "makes no exceptions for nobility."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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