Surrounded by hundreds of government supporters, Argentine Vice President Amado Boudou on Monday proclaimed his innocence before testifying as a potential defendant in a corruption case.
Prosecutors contend Boudou used his position as economy minister in 2009-2011 to favor a firm that prints currency for the Argentine treasury.
The subpoena to appear, issued late last month by federal Judge Ariel Lijo, marked the first time in Argentine history that a sitting vice president was cited as a potential defendant in a criminal matter.
Boudou on Monday asked the judge to allow him to videotape his statement and to have a Senate stenographer present in court as a “defensive measure,” but Lijo rejected the request.
“I’m very calm. I’m confident in all that I’ve done and in all that I’m going to continue doing,” Boudou told the reporters waiting for him at the door of his home before heading to court.
The vice president said that he hoped that his statement would enable “the full truth to begin to be known.”
“Personally, I believe in the innocence of the vice president, but - first of all - we came here to support the independence of the judiciary,” Emmanuel Tusinski, part of the pro-Boudou crowd outside the court building, told Efe.
Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich on Tuesday mentioned the case and asked that judicial “due process” be respected.
“Often, the media produce prejudgment, judgment, extreme summary judgment, conviction and sentencing. That’s not appropriate in a republican system, which has to have events be public but also due process,” Capitanich emphasized at his daily press conference.
Boudou, now 51, became vice president following the 2011 elections, in which President Cristina Fernandez won a second term with 54 percent of the vote.
But as Boudou became mired in corruption scandals, Fernandez has relegated him to the background.
Even so, her administration has consistently expressed support for the beleaguered vice president.