In a disented ruling issued yesterday, a federal court appointed Federal Judge Julián Ercolini to preside over the so-called “Hotesur case,” an investigation into whether former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her family laundered money by booking out rooms in their Alto Calafate hotel.
Judges Jorge Ballestero and Eduardo Farah voted in favour of transferring the case from judge Daniel Rafecas’s office (who, in turn, had recieved the case after Judge Claudio Bonadío was removed from it) while Judge Eduardo Farah voted against it.
Ercolini is the same judge who is presiding over the investigation into the death of AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman. He also led the crimes against humanity investigation into the alleged forced sale of the Papel Prensa paper pulp mill plant to the La Nación and Clarín newspapers during the last military dictatorship. Rights organizations accuse him of shelving the high-profile probe.
Judicial authorities from Federal Courthouse No. 2 decided to transfer the case to Ercolini because they believed there to be a connection between the possible crimes that occurred in the former president’s hotels and the criminal accusations against former president Néstor Kirchner and his wife originally filed by Civic Coalition lawmaker Elisa Carrió in 2008.
Federal Courthouse No. 1, meanwhile, ordered prosecutors Gerardo Pollicita and Carlos Stornelli to create a commission to help advance the case.
With the appointment, Ercolini becomes the third judge to preside over the case, which started in 2014 and investigates an alleged money-laundering operation linking arrested businessman Lázaro Báez for allegedly booking rooms from the Alto Calafate hotel for double the market price.
Báez probe continues
Judicial authorities continued to order raids on Báez’s properties yesterday in search of assets linked to alleged money laundering.
Federal Judge Sebastián Casane-llo said yesterday that the raids were necessary in order to obtain the necessary evidence so that the case could advance. While he understood there was a strong demand to move fast and get immediate results, he emphasized that judicial procedures must be respected.
“If there isn’t any evidence, then this case cannot advance,” Casane-llo told reporters.
Herald with online media