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In focus: who is Judge Ariel Lijo?

Judge Lijo Ariel (pictured right) and UNEN City lawmaker Gustavo Vera (left). are received by Pope Francis (centre) in this May 7 file photo.

Magistrate who summoned Boudou last week has dealt with complicated cases in the past

Last week, Judge Ariel Lijo summoned Amado Boudou for questioning as a suspect in the Ciccone Calcográfica mint influence-peddling case. But who is this 43-year-old magistrate who will rule on the first case of corruption against a vice-president in the country’s history?

Lijo was born on October 19, 1968 and is the youngest of the City’s federal judges. At age 22 he was already working for the Office of Public Defender, and in 2002 he entered the Comodoro Py courthouse as an assistant secretary for the First Court of the Federal Chamber.

It certainly isn’t the first time Lijo has dealt with complicated cases, since he had investigated and brought to trial those accused of covering up the AMIA jewish community centre bombing case, and he is still trying to impose a sentence on those responsible for the Siemens bribery case regarding a call for tenders for the issuance of DNI national identity cards during Carlos Menem’s term in office.

Sworn in by Kirchner

In 2004, Lijo became a federal judge after passing the first test conducted by the Magistrates Council — an attempt to renew the courts handling corruption cases.

In September 2004, Lijo was sworn in before former late president Néstor Kirchner along with judge Daniel Rafecas — who was later removed from the Ciccone investigation — and current City Security Minister Guillermo Montenegro. That same month Eduardo Freiler was appointed City’s Appeals judge. (In 2012, Freiler would remove Rafecas from the case following accusations of bias).

Lijo, father of two and married twice, heads the City’s Fourth Court — the same that once belonged to his brother-in-law Gabriel Cavallo, the first magistrate to rule unconstitutional the Full Stop and the Due Obedience laws that pardoned many accused of human rights violations during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

Lijo also sentenced to prison the heads of the the infamous Army Battalion 601’s Civil Intelligence outfit, including former army chief Cristino Nicolaides, for crimes against humanity.

AMIA, Duran Barba cases

Lijo investigated the covering up of the 1994 AMIA bombing that killed 85 people when a bomb exploded at the entrance of the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires. He brought to trial former president Carlos Menem, former SIDE intelligence agency chief Hugo Anzorreguy and former judge Juan José Galeano, among others, for serious irregularities committed during the investigation.

In 2006, Lijo also charged Alberto Kohan — former secretary general to the presidency during the Menem administration — for embezzlement.

The magistrate also handles the case against PRO campaign consultant Jaime Durán Barba, who was accused for the smear campaign against Victory Front (FpV) City candidate Daniel Filmus. The Ecuadorean consultant has been linked to the alleged false surveys made via telephone calls that described Filmus’ father as an architect who worked for former Madres de Plaza de Mayo’s former lawyer, Sergio Schocklender, who is under investigation over accusations of embezzlement.

Lijo also investigated a series of death threats made against President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner the same day the ESMA trials began. Recordings intercepted by official sources said “kill the mare” as well as more obscene phrases, and government officials linked the event to the human rights policy of the Kirchnerite administration.

The magistrate also handled, for a brief period of time, a number of incidents that took place during a Papel Prensa board meeting in July 2010 involving former Domestic Trade Secretary Guillermo Moreno.

Last week, Lijo decided on Boudou’s summons a day after centre-right PRO lawmakers Laura Alonso and Patricia Bullrich said the Criminal Appeals Court was about to remove him from the case. The vice-president will have to appear on July 15 before Lijo to explain if he was involved in illicit negotiations to purchase the Ciccone mint company (which prints the country’s peso bills) in 2010.

Herald staff

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