Argentine opposition, judicial organizations and business sectors unite in strong opposition to “illegal” removal of judge in Iran MOU case

The Argentine media reports that Judge Luis Maria Cabral has filed a formal complaint against the Judicial Council over his removal last week from the Court of Cassation. Cabral’s removal came just before that court was to rule on the constitutionality of the government’s MOU with Iran over the 1994 AMIA bombing in which prosecutor Alberto Nisman found Iran culpable and for which INTERPOL issued red notices. Cabral’s complaint argues that his removal from the court was “illegal.” The newspaper notes that Cabral told La Red radio that “it is incredible to illegally substitute one surrogate judge for another” and that the government is seeking to “discipline” the judicial branch.

Relatedly, a member of the Judicial Council from the opposition Radical party, Dep. Gustavo Valdes of Corrientes province, told Radio FM Blue that the state-run Aerolineas Argentinas may have deliberately cancelled his flight from Resistencia to Buenos Aires last week in order to prevent him from attending the meeting where Cabral was removed during an extraordinary session called with little notice. Valdes is on record supporting Cabral staying on Cassation. “Where is the pilot?” Valdes tweeted out as he waited at the airport the morning of the vote in Buenos Aires, where the flight was posted with a “weather delay” despite good conditions in both the departure and destination airports. “The pilots had received orders from the company not to leave the hotel,” reports La Nacion. The CEO of the state-run airline is Mariano Recalde, the government party candidate for Mayor of Buenos Aires.

La Nacion reports that a protest march has been called for July 14 to oppose Cabral’s removal. Leading opposition presidential candidates Mauricio Macri and Sergio Massa have announced their political parties will support the march. However, the newspaper reports that “Cristina will continue on the offensive” and the removal of other federal “substitute” judges are likely to happen in the coming weeks. The government, the newspaper reports, will next go after Judge Eduardo Farah, seeking to remove him from Chamber II of the Federal Appeals Court which will weigh in on “sensitive cases for the government,” including substantiated corruption allegations against the Kirchner family through its hotel businesses.

Clarin reported that the AMIA and DAIA filed a brief before the Cassation Court (as they are recognized as the case file of the Iran MOU challenge) demanding that Cabral’s final opinion be used in the resolution of the constitutional challenge appeal. Cassation prosecutor Raúl Pleé joined them with his own petition today, asking that Cabral’s written opinion be taken as part of the resolution. Business organizations also expressed “concern” and “rejection” of Cabral’s removal. The ruling party and state-run media lauded the removal of “the permanent substitute” and cheered the government’s implementation of its “reform” of the surrogate judge system in practice, while insisting that Cabral’s removal was proper, while also attacking his record. And four prominent members of the House of Deputies from the opposition PRO party – Laura Alonso, Federico Pinedo, Patricia Bullrich and Sergio Bergman – filed a formal federal complaint against the Judicial Council demanding that Cabral be reinstated in Cassation.