Former Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will stand trial for the first time on February 26, after a court rejected her bid to postpone proceedings over alleged embezzlement against her and other former government officials.
Senator Fernandez de Kirchner's legal team claimed the trail should not go ahead until the full investigation had run its course and a 10-day cooling-off period had concluded.
The affair will play out throughout most of 2019 as Fernández de Kirchner and her allies begin defining their candidacies for the October election.
Her alleged front-man Lázaro Báez, former Planning minister Julio de Vido and former Public Works secretary José López are among the defendants in the so-called Road Works scandal, which involves alleged embezzlement of public funds through tender processes for road works in Fernández de Kirchner's home province of Santa Cruz.
Federal Oral Court 2 rejected the defense's request on the grounds the investigation was sufficiently complete for the trail to begin, and despite a Procedural Criminal Code article which indicates a trial should not begin until 10 days have passed since the conclusion of an investigation.
The trial is expected to last eight months. However, most observers believe it will last longer and run throughout the October 2019 election campaign, despite a schedule of two hearing per week.
The scandal was investigated by Judge Julián Ercolini and prosecutors Gerardo Pollicita and Ignacio Mahique, following an initial complaint about alleged irregularities in the granting of tenders for public works projects in Santa Cruz province to Báez's Grupo Austral firm.
The case is emblematic not only for being the first to put Fernández de Kirchner in the dock but also because it was the first to provide enough evidence to charge the Senator for corruption.
The judges who will decide hers and her codefendants' fate are Jorge Tassara, Jorge Gorini and Rodrigo Giménez Uriburu. The trial prosecutor is Diego Luciani.