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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández was in court this week for the first in a string of trials charging her with corruption. Fernández remains a hugely popular but divisive figure in Argentina, and she recently surprised many when she announced that she will run for vice president instead of the presidency in this year’s elections. Here’s a look at the trial and its possible impact on this year’s presidential election.
In the initial trial, which is expected to last about a year, Fernández faces charges of heading a criminal association that defrauded the state by illegally granting public works projects in the southern province on Santa Cruz during her 2007-2015 presidency.
Prosecutors allege about 50 of those infrastructure contracts benefited Lazaro Báez, a businessman who was close to her and her late husband and predecessor as president, Nestor Kirchner. Prosecutors also say that a disproportionate amount of projects were allocated to the province through Báez and that several projects were overpriced and many were unfinished.
The center-left Fernández denies any wrongdoing and has called the trial a political “smoke screen.” She accuses the administration of her successor, conservative Mauricio Macri, of persecuting her in hopes of distracting from Argentina’s current economic troubles and of undermining her popularity.
Other former Argentine presidents have faced trials, but Fernández is the only one to do so while having a clear shot of returning to power.
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