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Fri Mar 8, 2019, 10:33 PM

Argentina: Witness against jailed opposition lawmaker indicted for false testimony

Argentine Federal Judge Sebastián Ramos issued an indictment today against an energy market analyst for providing "distorted, plagiarized, and outright false information" in a report used to indict and expel an opposition lawmaker.

The analyst, David Cohen, 70, authored a study on which Federal Judge Claudio Bonadío based his October 2017 indictment against Congressman Julio de Vido on alleged overpayment for natural gas imports during his 2003-15 tenure as Public Works Minister.

The Cohen study was shown within days to have been both erroneous and plagiarized from a paper written by Chilean college students on that country's gas import market - not Argentina's.

Cohen's indictment comes exactly a year after the gas overpayment charges against de Vido were dropped due to the fraudulent nature of Cohen's own report.

Critics note, moreover, that de Vido's expulsion from Congress contrasts sharply with that of pro-government lawmaker Aída Ayala, who retains her seat despite being convicted last May for racketeering and having said conviction upheld in October.

de Vido, 69, served as Public Works Minister during the center-left administrations of presidents Néstor and Cristina Kirchner.

Mrs. Kirchner succeeded her ailing husband as president in 2007, and as senator is today a leading opponent of right-wing President Mauricio Macri.


Amid a imploding debt bubble and severe recession, Macri is facing job disapproval of 70% and has relied on corruption allegations against Kirchner and her former officials to boost his reelection chances this year.

But recent recordings suggest Macri and his chief media ally, the Clarín Group, have been working with Judge Bonadío and Federal Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli to frame opponents - primarily by coercing witnesses to perjure themselves against former Kirchner-era officials and Kirchner herself.

The operative managing the extortion scheme, Marcelo d'Alessio, was indicted on February 25 by Federal Judge Alejo Ramos Padilla.

The mercurial d'Alessio, 48, was recorded throughout January by organic farmer Pedro Etchebest (from whom d'Alessio sought a $300,000 ransom), and provided extensive details on the scheme.

Some $12 million in bribes had been collected just since last August, according to d'Alessio. Other victims have since come forward.

Stornelli, who was charged on March 6 as a co-conspirator, was summoned to testify on March 7 by Judge Ramos Padilla but refused to appear.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eldestapeweb.com%2Fclaudio-bonadio%2Fcausa-gnl-procesaron-al-perito-trucho-bonadio-n57066

Court-appointed expert David Cohen, whose falsified market study was the sole basis for indicting - and later expelling - opposition Congressman Julio de Vido.

de Vido and at least two other former Public Works Ministry officials remain in prison despite the debunked study and Cohen's own indictment.

Cohen's indictment comes amid a massive extortion scandal involving the same judge and prosecutor, and the same ends: coercing false testimony against Macri's opponents - as well as at least $12 million in ransom payments.

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