Former Argentine Public Works Ministry official José López, who had been convicted for corruption after being caught on camera carrying bags of money into a convent outside Buenos Aires, has posted bail and was freed from jail.
López had been granted the option since April but had been so far unable to raise the AR $ 14.5 million (around US $ 70,000 at the unofficial exchange rate) required as bond.
The former secretary of Public Works had been sentenced to seven years in prison for illicit enrichment and also for possessing a weapon that morning in the General Rodríguez convent where he was filmed with some US $ 9 million in cash in the bags.
The court had originally set bail at 85 million pesos, but the amount was lowered first to AR $ 48 million and then again on a second appeal after López claimed he had no resources for that. His case is being handled by an official public defence lawyer (Pamela Bisserier).
López will now remain in the custody of the witness protection program since he is accused of collaborating in the cause of the bribery notebooks.
On June 14, 2016, at 3 am López, former secretary of Public Works of Kirchnerism, arrived at the General Rodríguez convent with bags containing more than 9 million dollars.
He intended to hide them, along with 153,000 euros, 59,000 pesos, and jewellery in addition to firearms. But he was discovered on the spot by the Police and held in custody ever since until Friday after he was granted parole.
Video footage showed López arriving at the convent's door, leaving a rifle aside and ringing the bell on various occasions. Then at least two nuns opened the door and brought in the bags. López could never explain how he got hold of that money and in 2018 he was convicted for illicit enrichment.
His trial featured over 100 witnesses. In the proceedings, it was established that López had “increased his assets by a scandalously high amount which can in no way be justified (...) which shows that behind this spurious money there are acts of corruption.
Opposition leaders Friday reacted at López's release. How easy they make a life for the corrupt ones!,” said PRO chairwoman Patricia Bullrich. Deputy Mario Negri of the UCR cried “José López was convicted of stealing 9 million DOLLARS and now the Judiciary is asking him for 14.5 million PESOS!” Both PRO and UCR make up the opposition alliance Juntos por el Cambio (Together for a change – JxC) of former President Mauricio Macri.
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