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Argentine court rejects Kirchner bid to throw out corruption case

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An Argentine court rejected a request from lawyers to throw out a corruption case against former president and current vice-presidential candidate Cristina Kirchner.

[BUENOS AIRES] An Argentine court rejected a request from lawyers to throw out a corruption case against former president and current vice-presidential candidate Cristina Kirchner.

The 66-year-old Kirchner is accused of having favoured companies owned by businessman Lazaro Baez in the award of 52 public works contracts worth 46 billion pesos (S$1.67 billion) during both her presidency and that of her late husband Nestor Kirchner.

The trial opened in May and is due to continue on September 2.

Another 12 people are accused in the case, including Baez, Julio De Vido, an ex-minister, and former government official Jose Lopez.

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The indictment alleges that many of the works contracts awarded in Santa Cruz province were overpriced and, although they were paid for, were never completed.

Before the case began, Kirchner's defence team had requested that the trial be suspended until the results of a financial assessment of those works contracts was completed.

The results were published on Monday and "showed that the people who are accused didn't commit the crimes for which they're being tried," Kirchner's lawyer Gregorio Dalbon told AFP.

"The experts confirmed there was no overcharging in the five works that were assessed," Mr Dalbon said.

"The trial is over, it's void. It's undefined. There's no substance and there's no proof," he added.

The federal court has however decided to continue the trial, and Dalbon said he had not ruled out appealing to the chamber of cassation or the Supreme Court.

Kirchner's lawyers previously submitted numerous appeals, but the Supreme Court decided in May that the trial would go ahead.

It is the first in a string of 12 corruption cases that Kirchner, now a senator, faces. She is also the subject of five requests for pre-trial detention, from which she has parliamentary protection.

She is standing alongside presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez in the October 27 elections.

Mr Fernandez trounced incumbent liberal President Mauricio Macri in primary elections two weeks ago and is the frontrunner to win in October.

AFP