Man arrested after attempting to shoot Argentina’s vice-president
(Update 1: Adds details, alters guide)
Buenos Aires, Sep 2 (EFE).- A man was arrested Thursday night after attempting to shoot Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner at close range outside her home in Buenos Aires.
The incident took place at about 9.30 pm local time (00:30 GMT Friday) as she was greeting supporters who have been holding vigil outside her Recoleta neighborhood residence in recent days in protest of corruption charges filed against her in court.
Footage broadcast by the C5N television channel shows a man pushing through the crowd and raising a gun to the former president’s face. She immediately shields herself with her hands and crouches down.
The suspect was later named as Brazilian national Fernando Andrés Sabag Montiel, a resident in Argentina since 1993. He had previously been detained by police for carrying a weapon and has tattoos of Nazi symbolism, according to the newspaper La Nación, which quoted government sources.
In a national TV address, President Alberto Fernández said the suspect had pulled the trigger.
“Cristina remains alive because, for a reason not yet technically confirmed, the weapon that had five bullets did not fire despite having been triggered,” he said.
Security ministry officials told EFE that members of the Argentine Federal Police, which is in charge of the vice president’s security, were alerted by demonstrators at the scene to an armed man among them.
“For this reason, he was identified and arrested on Juncal and Uruguay streets (near the vice-president’s home) and a weapon was found a few meters from the place. The situation is under control,” the sources told EFE.
The seized weapon is a 32-caliber Bersa pistol, according to the same sources.
President Fernández condemned the “attack” against his deputy and said it was the “most serious event that has happened” since Argentina returned to democracy in 1983.
He declared Friday a national holiday so that “in peace and harmony, the Argentinian people can express themselves in defense of life, democracy and in solidarity” with Fernández.
“May the shock, horror and repudiation that this event generates in us become a permanent commitment to eradicate hatred and violence from life in democracy,” he said.
While international governments such as the United States, Mexico, Cuba and Honduras condemned the incident, it also unleashed commotion through Argentina’s political sphere.
A group of deputies and senators from the ruling party and the opposition expressed their “repudiation” of the attack and announced that a special session will be held in parliament to condemn it.
The ruling Justicialist Party demanded in a statement that Justice clarify the “cowardly assassination attempt” and the immediate reinforcement of security measures to protect the vice president.
Leaders of Together for Change, the main opposition coalition, also condemned the incident with former president Mauricio Macri saying “this very serious fact requires an immediate and profound clarification by the Justice and the security forces.”
On Aug. 22, a prosecutor requested a 12-year prison sentence for the vice-president in a case of alleged corruption.
Since then, her supporters and opponents have demonstrated in the streets of Buenos Aires.
Tensions escalated in the following days after a barricade was set up around Fernández’s home and the ruling party accused supporters of the Buenos Aires government of repression of the demonstrators.