Argentina's ex-president Cristina Kirchner arrived in court on Monday to give evidence in a corruption trial in which she is charged with diverting public funds, just a week before she returns to the country's government as vice president.
Kirchner, 66, smiled and waved to a group of banner-waving supporters when she arrived at Buenos Aires' Comodoro Py courthouse.
Shortly before her appearance, Kirchner denounced her trial as part of a concerted effort to demonize and destroy her.
In Argentina, as in the rest of Latin America, the coordination of the media and the judicial apparatus, with the objective of demonizing and destroying the leaders of popular and democratic governments, has been transformed into a systematic plan, Kirchner wrote on Twitter.
She is accused of having favored companies owned by businessman Lazaro Baez in the award of 52 public works contracts worth 46 billion pesos (US$1.2 billion) during her presidency and that of her late husband Nestor Kirchner.
During her three hour defense before the court, the former president said that it was Congress that approved the budget, and the cabinet chief responsible for implementing it, and not the president of the Republic. Thus the accusations about alleged manipulation of budget funds must be answered not by her, the former president, but by the cabinet chiefs.
An extraordinary defense since two of the cabinet chiefs during the Cristina Kirchner mandates are now her closest political allies in her comeback, president elect Alberto Fernandez and the head of the Lower House, Sergio Massa.
The trial is one of eight separate cases in which she faces charges stemming from the couple's time in office.
Gregorio Dalbon, one of her lawyers, said on Monday the case against Kirchner had no substance and that prosecutors were using the law to persecute her for political reasons. Those responsible, Dalbon told reporters, will surely be tried in the future.
In everything they've said about Cristina, they have found nothing. Cristina is going to prove today that this case has been concocted in order to pursue her.
Her lawyers petitioned the court to allow her testimony to be televised, but the judge refused.
Kirchner swept back into government last month, credited with masterminding the electoral triumph of president-elect Alberto Fernandez, who united a fragmented left to push incumbent President Mauricio Macri's center-right coalition from power.
The inauguration takes place on Dec 10.