September 20, 2014
The provisional restitution of José María Campagnoli as the Saavedra prosecutor (pending a renewal of the legal proceedings against him later) makes nonsense of the confident claims that he had been convicted in advance before his impeachment began in a travesty of justice. Various broadcast and print media sought for months to convey the impression that Campagnoli was being singled out for punishment for having the audacity to investigate the money-laundering of a Kirchnerite crony capitalist. But it was all rather more complex than that.
Before rushing to hail Campagnoli’s return as a triumph of justice, it is worth recalling the deplorable episode of the juror María Cristina Martínez Córdoba who apparently could not cope with the Twitter harassment spearheaded by the Clarín Group’s star journalist and sought leave on the grounds of stress, thus making way for another lawyer who provided the decisive vote for re-instating Campagnoli pending a retrial. Even so, we prefer not to fall into the absurd error of judging the independence of justice according to the result of the sentence. Despite all the legitimate critiques of the Argentine judiciary, we would rather not lurch between the extremes of denouncing them as venal lackeys repeating the verdicts dictated to them over the telephone and then shortly afterwards hailing them as valiant judges and prosecutors giving Argentina its own version of mani pulite.
While there seems to be a certain media market for hero worship, we should not forget that Campagnoli pursued a parallel probe exceeding his jurisdiction (one of the charges against him) or, what is worse, storing in his computers photos of families (including children) from a deprived neighbourhood in an obviously demeaning way. But we should also recall that Norberto Oyarbide and many other judges and prosecutors appointed during the 1989-99 Carlos Menem decade and even during the last dictatorship continue their shady work thanks to floating agreements between Kirchnerism, the opposition and the corporativist world of lawyers and magistrates, so firmly defended by the highest levels of justice. Indeed pending final resolution of the Campagnoli impeachment we might venture that his presumed flaws are minor compared to the arbitrary perversity of many magistrates. An inconsistency which Kirchnerism, among others, should explain.