Federal Judge Norberto Oyarbide has formally indicted Buenos Aires' city mayor Mauricio Macri, for violation of trade secrets, abuse of authority, falsification of public documents and participation in a conspiracy. He was also accused of being involved in the illegal wiretapping of other politicians. Macri is the leader of the centre-right PRO Party and a likely presidential candidate next year. The judge seized 250,000 pesos (US$64,000) of Macri's assets.
The judge also indicted the two judges in the province of Misiones, José Luis Rey and Horacio Gallardo, for the same crimes, as well as former police chief of Buenos Aires, Jorge 'Fino' Palacios, accusing him of five cases of espionage. Former Buenos Aires Education Minister Mariano Narodowski (who resigned from his post last December) was named as 'an accessory'.
Macri denied all the charges, saying there was nothing on file against him, and arguing that the whole case was political maneuvering on the part of President Cristina Fernandez, his long-term rival, and her husband and predecessor Nestor Kirchner, in collaboration with Judge Oyarbide. He said 'the prosecution was written before the case had begun' and that the kirchnerismo (the ruling party) was determined 'to injure' anyone who opposed them.
He also challenged the authority and impartiality of Judge Oyarbide in an attempt to remove him from the case and claimed at a rally that he would appeal against the ruling. 'We believe that what we have presented is well founded. Hopefully an independent judiciary will act accordingly and finally tell people what we have said. There is no fact, no evidence that demonstrates or shows that I am a member of a conspiracy,' he insisted.
Macri maintained that the scandal would not affect his plans to run for President next year. One of his main rivals is likely to be Kirchner of the ruling Peronist Party. The war of words between the PRO and Peronist parties has intensified following the indictment. Judge Oyarbide said that on the basis of evidence seized from computers at former police chief Palacios' company, it appeared that Kirchner and President Fernandez were also targets of the phonetapping.