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Couple formally charged in Argentine VP assassination attempt

#Couple #formally #charged #Argentine #assassination #attempt

The gunman who tried to shoot Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Kirchner in the face was formally charged Thursday with attempted homicide, as was his girlfriend, court documents showed.

Fernando Sabag Montiel, 35, was caught on stunning video pointing a pistol at Kirchner from close range as she greeted supporters outside her home on September 1.

After Montiel’s weapon failed to go off — for reasons still unknown — he was overpowered and arrested, while his girlfriend Brenda Uliarte, 23, was arrested three days later.

The judge leading the case, Maria Capuchetti, issued charges of attempted aggravated homicide with premeditation against Sabag Montiel and Uliarte, who will remain in police custody, according to court documents seen by AFP.

Judge Capuchetti has yet to issue charges against two of the couple’s acquaintances — Agustina Diaz, 21, and Gabriel Carrizo, 27 — who were both arrested earlier this week.

Authorities had said earlier that there was evidence of “planning and prior agreement” between Montiel and Uliarte, though their motives have not yet been clearly established.

The investigation has been based primarily on analysis of the suspects’ social media accounts, computers and phones. They paid particular attention to the fact that Kirchner’s supporters gathered near her house every night.

This “was studied in detail by the two (defendants) to choose the right time for the attack,” Capuchetti said.

Although the pair have not been shown to be politically radical, Montiel did have tattoos of neo-Nazi symbols.

Uliarte showed clear hostility towards Kirchner online, saying in one message: “I sent (someone) to kill Cristina.”

Kirchner, the 69-year-old former president, enjoys a loyal support base among followers of the center-left Peronist movement.

But she is disliked in equal measure by the political opposition, and is at the center of a heated corruption trial from her time in office.

The day after the attack, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in several Argentine cities to show her support.

Kirchner spoke publicly Thursday for the first time since the attempt on her life, during a meeting in the Argentine Senate with priests and nuns working in the slums around the capital.

“I feel that I am alive thanks to God and the Virgin” Mary, she said.

She also said that Pope Francis, who is Argentine himself, had called her after the attack to express his support.

Argentina’s highly polarized politics have been at the center of debate since the attack, with politicians from both sides blaming each other for fomenting a “climate of hate.”

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