De Vido in one of the hearings of the oral trial for the Tragedy of Eleven (Adrián Escandar)
The prosecutor of the Federal Chamber of Criminal Cassation Raúl Pleé Yesterday asked that the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation aggravate the conviction of the former Minister of Federal Planning Julio De Vido due to the Once railway tragedy, in which 51 people died in February 2012. The former official is sentenced in the case to five years and eight months in prison for the crime of fraudulent administration and Pleé required that it also be for that of negligent damage, of which he was acquitted. For its part, De Vido’s defense asked the highest court to acquit all the accusations.
They did so when they appealed the Cassation ruling that confirmed the conviction of the former official a month and a half ago so that their claims are reviewed by the Court. For the case to reach the highest court, the appeals must be accepted by Cassation.
If the proposals are rejected, De Vido’s sentence is in a position to be executed and therefore the former official can go back to jail or discuss a house arrest due to his health and age. However, a congressional commission launched six articles of the Federal Criminal Procedure Code that modify the criteria for a final conviction. One of them establishes that “only firm sentences can be executed” and a conviction is final when the Court rejects all the proposals in the case. Therefore, we must wait for the ruling of the highest court, which has no deadlines to resolve.
But even when the Court decides, another range of possibilities opens up that could cause the case not to be defined there, but to return to Cassation.
De Vido was convicted in October 2018 by the Federal Oral Court 4 in what was the second trial for the Tragedy of Eleven, which occurred on February 22, 2012 when a train on the Sarmiento line -which was concessioned by the company Trenes de Buenos Aires (TBA) – crashed at that station. 51 people were killed and 789 others were injured. De Vido was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison for the crime of fraudulent administration to the detriment of the State and was acquitted for the culpable damage. For the court judges Pablo Bertuzzi, Néstor Costabel and Gabriela López Iñíguez, De Vido had to control the public funds that TBA received and that did not go to the service, but he was not responsible for the deaths. At the trial, the relatives of the victims and the Prosecutor’s Office claimed a sentence of nineteen years for the two crimes. The former official received the verdict in the Marcos Paz prison, where he was being held for other reasons. For the Tragedy of Eleven he was never in prison.
51 deaths and more than 789 victims left the tragedy (Gustavo Gavotti)
Last December 22, Cassation confirmed the ruling. The judges did it Eduardo Riggi, Liliana Catucci. The chambermaid Gustavo Hornos He also voted for the condemnation of the havoc. But it remained in the minority. Those magistrates must resolve the appeals presented.
The chambermaids noted that De Vido was aware of all TBA breaches through reports of the General Auditor of the Nation, the General Syndicate of the Nation and the National Commission for the Regulation of Transport (CNRT) that warned it, and that the company was the one that had more fines and non-compliance. “De Vido did nothing to amend the course of events, despite the powers and attributions he enjoyed as the highest authority on transport matters “, they said.
For Riggi and Catucci he had no responsibility for the deaths. They said that the “immediate control of the conditions in which the service was provided and, therefore, the effective and concrete knowledge of the risks that this represented for the safety of the users” was from the Ministry of Transportation, which at that time was in charge of Juan Pablo Schiavi, who was sentenced for the case to five years and six months in prison and is imprisoned in the Ezeiza prison. His predecessor, Ricardo Jaime, was also convicted and is being held in the same unit, with a sentence of eight years.
In his vote, Judge Hornos considered that De vido was also responsible for the damage caused by the deaths since he had a passivity in the position that contributed to the fact allowing the Sarmiento line service to develop “In precarious conditions to the obvious detriment of its users.”
The judges of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation
Both the defense of De Vido, in charge of the lawyers Maximiliano Rusconi and Gabriel Palmeiro, like prosecutor Pleé, they appealed the Cassation ruling. Both parties agreed that the decision is arbitrary and that the Supreme Court should intervene because it is a final judgment.
The Prosecutor’s Office asked the Court to condemn De Vido for the culpable havoc. “If De Vido was aware of the absence of maintenance of the assets given in concession, and if precisely that deficit was one of the triggers of the tragedy, then it is not explained why that duty of urgent action that was demanded of him as an authority of application, it would only have to affect less economic damage to the State and not, a fortiori, in avoiding the catastrophe that has occurred ”, argued Pleé. The prosecutor highlighted that De Vido had a direct intervention in at least 179 sanctioning proceedings against TBA, so he was very familiar with the company’s situation. The prosecutor did not request a penalty for the crime of havoc. That is discussed in another judicial instance if their proposal is accepted.
The defense asked for acquittal. “There is no evidence in the case that points to De Vido as giving instructions to the Secretary of Transportation or the CNRT to carry out a fraudulent maneuver. Therefore, not only was the quality of ‘executor arm’ a ‘normative impossibility’, but it also did not occur ‘in fact’ “, argument.
The lawyers stated that the control functions belonged to the CNRT and the Secretary of Transportation, not the Minister of Planning. Also, the sanctions that TBA received do not directly enable the contract to be revoked. “The policy of renegotiation of works and services contracts – due to its budgetary and inflationary impact – was beyond the scope of the Ministry of Planning, to depend on the Ministry of Economy and, fundamentally, the Chief of Cabinet, in charge of exercising the general administration of the country ”, They pointed out. They also objected to the amount of the sentence of five years and eight months in prison.
The defense also made a brief reference to the possibility that the former official could be arrested. He said that the appeal filed has “direct impact on the possible freedom of Julio Miguel De Vido ”.
Ricardo Jaime, also convicted of Once (NA)
De Vido was arrested in October 2017 in the Río Turbio case. He was in Marcos Paz jail until December 2019 when he was granted house arrest and in March of last year he was released. It was also for the cause of the corruption notebooks. The former official was released from prison for his health problems – requiring insulin-like diabetes, gastroduodenal ulcer and high blood pressure, among others.
If the conviction for what happened in Once is confirmed, he must begin to serve the sentence that, since it is more than three years, implies his arrest. But due to his state of health and his age, he is 71 years old, his defense will ask that he be domiciled. It will be a discussion that will come later.
Appeals must be answered by the parties. Cassation has already started with that process. When the case reaches the Court, another range of possibilities will open up. One is that the highest court confirms what Cassation did or that it accepts the defense’s claim and acquits De Vido. Another possibility is that it modifies some aspect of the ruling that implies that the case returns to Cassation so that a new resolution is issued under what is known as “double compliant”, which would further lengthen the time for the final resolution of the case.
For that reason of legal labyrinths that could delay a definition of the case was that the complaint that represents the families of the victims did not appeal the judgment of Cassation. He chose to avoid eventual delays and for the sentence to be final as soon as possible, even if it is for a single crime when in the trial he asked that he be convicted of both.
The Court has already intervened in the Tragedy of Eleven. It was in September of last year when he confirmed the sentences of the first trial. There were convicted Schiavi, Jaime, the machinist Marcos Cordoba, the TBA holder, Sergio Cirigliano, and other company executives.
Eleven’s is the first and so far only conviction of De Vido. But he has other oral trials. He is currently being tried together with the vice president Cristina Kirchner for the alleged irregularities in the public works that the businessman Lázaro Báez received. It also has the lawsuits for the purchase of junk trains from Spain and Portugal, the Odebrecht case and the corruption notebooks. And he remains under investigation for alleged illicit enrichment.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.