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July 24, 2014
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Campagnoli reinstated as prosecutor

Prosecutor José María Campagnoli enters the Attorney General headquarters.
By Luciana Bertoia
Herald Staff
Impeachment tribunal also says that a new trial has to be held before October

The die was not cast, as many opposition lawmakers said. Suspended prosecutor José María Campagnoli is going to be reinstated at the prosecution unit he heads in the City neighbourhood of Saavedra. However, yesterday’s could be seen as a Solomonic decision as the members of the impeachment jury decided that the charges of malfeasance against Campagnoli have not expired. Campagnoli will thus have to face another trial before October.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for August 5 to examine evidence against Campagnoli, who is accused of malfeasance and of interfering with a colleague’s investigation. He can still be removed from his post.

“We welcome the tribunal’s decision but we think that a second trial cannot be held as the state failed in its attempt to judge Campagnoli,” his lawyer, Ignacio Irigaray, said in conversation with the Herald.

For his part, prosecutor Adolfo Villate expressed his concern for the court’s resolution but said that “it made it clear that democratic institutions were working.”

In a marathon meeting, the members of the impeachment tribunal decided that the suspension against Campagnoli had to be lifted. The prosecutor will be able to return to his office in Saavedra as soon as he receives a formal notification from Attorney General Alejandra Gils Carbó.

“He wants to go back,” Irigaray told the Herald minutes after Campagnoli received the good news.

The decision divided the members of the impeachment court. Federal prosecutor Daniel Adler, Ernesto Kreplak (the Executive’s representative) and Rodolfo Ojea Quintana (the Senate’s representative) opposed Campagnoli’s reinstatement. Members of bar associations Javier Panero and Adriana Donato along with Juan Octavio Gauna (the Supreme Court’s representative) and Public Defender Leonardo Miño voted in favour of Campagnoli.

Miño himself was part of the discussion as the members of the tribunal had to decide who was going to replace Public Defender María Cristina Martínez Córdoba, who stepped down two weeks ago from the court after complaining about stress and high blood pressure as a result of alleged threats.

Panero, Donato and Gauna yesterday arrived at the Attorney General’s headquarters at 1pm determined to discuss a recusation request against Miño filed weeks ago by prosecutors Villate and Marcelo García Berro. After a heated controversy, the other members of the court agreed to debate that issue first on their agenda. All of them agreed that there were no grounds to recuse Miño despite him being a member of the Magistrates Association, which in December opposed Campagnoli’s suspension.

The next discussion was whether Miño or Nicolás Toselli — who was appointed by chief of the Public Defenders Office Stella Maris Martínez— were going to replace Martínez Córdoba. Miño voted for himself along with Donato, Gauna and Panero. Sources told the Herald that Stella Maris Martínez was disappointed by Miño’s attitude, which would have led to another internal rift.

“For us, Miño’s presence in the court is not a guarantee,” Villate complained in conversation with this newspaper.

A new proceeding

The seven members of the tribunal agreed that the trial against Campagnoli was over but that a new proceeding will have to be carried out before October, dismissing the request filed on Wednesday by Campagnoli’s lawyers, Irigaray and former Radical lawmaker Ricardo Gil Lavedra.

“The trial failed and the jurors did not deliver a verdict. It was not Campagnoli’s fault, thus we consider that he cannot be tried for a second time,” Irigaray said.

However, the jurors agreed that a preliminary hearing will have to be held on August 5 to decide when the second proceeding will start. Campagnoli’s lawyers, the prosecutors who accuse Campagnoli of malfeasance and his lawyers will have to examine the evidence against the prosecutor, who says that his legal situation comes as a reprisal for investigating Kirchnerite businessman Lázaro Báez.

Prosecutors will likely try to incorporate new charges against Campagnoli — who is also accused of having a photographic database of residents from the impoverished area known as Barrio Mitre within the neighbourhood of Saavedra. But sources from the impeachment tribunal told the Herald that altering the charges was only a remote possibility.

Jurors also condemned an episode of harassment suffered by Adler yesterday. Pamphlets against the prosecutor were yesterday distributed at the school where his 17-year-old daughter studies in the city of Mar del Plata. Signs calling Adler “Campagnoli’s executioner” also appeared throughout the coastal city.

@lucianabertoia

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