(CNN Spanish) — On Thursday, September 1, a man approached the Vice President of Argentina, Cirstina Fernández de Kirchner, while she was greeting supporters gathered outside her home in Buenos Aires and pointed a gun at her: she pulled the trigger, but for some reason the shot he did not come out and the attack remained an attempted murder.
Since then, Argentina has been shocked by this attack against one of the most influential politicians in the country –with supporters and detractors alike–, who was also president twice (between 2007 and 2015) and is being investigated in a case of alleged corruption.
This is what we know at the moment about the assassination attempt.
In what context did the attack take place?
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is the current Vice President of Argentina, in the government of President Alberto Fernández. She is also the most important political leader in the government coalition, the Frente de Todos, whose presidential formula won the elections in 2019 and took office in December of that year.
The government’s popularity has been falling since it took office, as inflation accelerates, poverty increases and the value of the informal dollar, known as the “blue” skyrockets. In the mid-term legislative elections in 2021, the Frente de Todos suffered a defeat that generated changes in the Fernández cabinet and internal political tensions.
In this context, Fernández de Kirchner is being investigated for alleged corruption during her two terms as president in the case known as “Highway” —the vice president denies the charges and assures that it is a political persecution against her—. In the second half of August, the prosecution requested a sentence against him of 12 years in prison and lifelong disqualification from holding public office.
From that moment, supporters of Fernández de Kirchner began to gather every day in the street in front of the vice president’s apartment in the Recoleta neighborhood, in the City of Buenos Aires, to show their support. The situation even caused disturbances with the police.
Fernández de Kirchner took a few minutes each day to greet his vigil followers in person, shake their hands, and sign copies of his book “Sinceramente.”
What happened that night in front of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s apartment?
On the night of Thursday, September 1, while Fernández de Kirchner greeted his supporters as he did every day, a man approached him, took out a pistol and pointed it at him a few centimeters from his head, a sequence that was recorded on different videos.
The man, identified as Fernando Andrés Sabag Montiel, seemed to trigger the weapon, but the shot never came out and he then tried to escape, but was stopped by the police a few meters away.
The Bersa 32-caliber semi-automatic pistol he was carrying was also found by the police, who verified that it had five bullets in the magazine and that it worked perfectly.
Silvana Benegas, a witness to the attack against Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, told the media a day after the attack that the vice president was surrounded by people and that it was “everything very fast.”
Upon learning what happened, the woman said she reacted with “a lot of pain and a lot of helplessness.” “As a society we are losing ourselves because hate leads us to insane things, to kill someone,” Benegas said.
“When Cristina enters her home, that we break the chain here, we all go to where the tree was there, the real estate agency, we go there and there they tell us that there was a man who was with a gun, that is, not only that he was with a gun, later we found out that he was shot. Cristina crouched down at one point, what happened is that Cristina was cornered, she was easy prey, very easy, “said the witness.
Argentine President Alberto Fernández declared Friday, September 2, a national holiday for the nation to come together in support of Fernández de Kirchner, according to his announcement.
“The vice president has been attacked and the peace has been disturbed,” Fernandez said.
What is known about the man who carried out the attack?
Sabag Montiel is 35 years old, was born on January 13, 1987 in the state of Sao Paulo, in Brazil, but has resided there since 1993, sources from the country’s Migration Directorate reported.
The Friday after the attack he was charged with attempted murder. Federal judge María Eugenia Capuchetti and prosecutor Carlos Rívolo announced the charges against Sabag Montiel at the Palermo Federal Police station where he is being held.
The defendant had permission to carry weapons, reported the National Agency for Controlled Materials (Anmac).
Sabag Montiel had already had problems with the Justice: the Police said that he was arrested for “use of an improper weapon” for carrying a large knife in 2021.
In two videos broadcast by the local channel Crónica TV, the accused is seen and heard giving his opinion in mid-August on various current Argentine issues.
A reporter asks him: Massa yes or Massa no?, in reference to the newly appointed Minister of Economy. And Sabag Montiel replied: “No, not even with sticks.” Later, in an apparent criticism of the government’s social policy, the person suspected of targeting the vice president said: “My girlfriend had social plans, but she stopped having them, because she doesn’t give plans when you can work. She gets ahead by working, not charging plans”.
The Argentine Federal Police indicated that the person who appeared on Crónica TV is the same person who is being detained in the Superintendence of this force and is accused of attempted murder.
In addition, it was confirmed that the defendant has a tattoo with Nazi symbols.
How is the investigation progressing?
Gregorio Dalbón, one of the lawyers representing the Argentine vice president, said that Cristina Fernández de Kirchner would present herself as the plaintiff.
Dalbón made these statements both to the official Télam agency and to various local media in reference to the case being investigated by Judge María Eugenia Capuchetti and Prosecutor Carlos Rívolo.
On the other hand, earlier this week it was learned that a report from the Argentine Federal Police (PSA) determined that the seized weapon had DNA traces that would coincide with that of Sabag Montiel, a source with direct access to the file told CNN.
The DNA samples compatible with Sabag Montiel were found, said the source with access to the police report, in the trigger, slide and handle of the 32-caliber Bersa pistol, an Argentine-made weapon, he specified before the query.
The report would compromise the detainee, since the firearm was seized on Thursday night on public roads moments after the attack on Fernández de Kirchner, according to a police statement, and the gun was not in Sabag’s possession at that time. Montiel.
This Tuesday, Judge Capuchetti said that she would take an investigative statement from Brenda Elizabeth Uliarte, the girlfriend of Fernando Sabag Montiel who was arrested on Sunday, to determine what role Uliarte played in the alleged murder attempt.
Uliarte, 23, was arrested this Sunday when she was identified in at least one video that recorded the moments after the event and in the vicinity of Fernández de Kirchner’s home, sources said. She was charged, like Sabag Montiel, for “having tried to kill” the vice president, “according to the state agency Telam.
Sabag Montiel and Uliarte refused to testify, however, as it was learned this Wednesday.
Despite the refusal, the man told the judge and the prosecutor: “Brenda had nothing to do with it,” in relation to his girlfriend and also detainee, Brenda Elizabeth Uliarte, a source with direct access to the file told CNN.
Uliarte agreed to answer questions from his defense attorney. He assured that he had no participation in the attempted murder, described the event as “aberrant”, and said that he was at the place and time of the event because he had accompanied his partner, according to the same source.
Both were then transferred to a dependency of the Airport Security Police (PSA) where they will remain detained, confirmed the same source.
The investigation is under summary secrecy, according to Judge Capuchetti.
According to the state news agency Télam, based on judicial sources, the cell phone that Sabag Montiel was carrying suffered a reset when the experts were trying to extract information, so it could be impossible to access this fundamental evidence for the investigation.
How was the reaction in Argentina and the world?
Immediately after the event, personalities from Argentine politics and the world expressed their rejection and sent their solidarity to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
The former president of Argentina Mauricio Macri expressed his “absolute repudiation” of the attack on twitter and requested an “clarification by the justice and the security forces.”
For his part, the Minister of Justice of Argentina, Martin Soria, reacted on his Twitter account to the attack against the vice president. “The assassination attempt against @CFKArgentina is a before and after in our democratic history”, Soria wrote.
“When hate and violence are imposed on the debate of ideas, they destroy societies and situations like today’s are generated: an assassination attempt. All my solidarity to @CFKArgentina and her family”, wrote on Twitter Sergio MassaMinister of Economy of Argentina.
Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero also expressed his solidarity with the vice president: “They wanted to kill @CFKArgentina. It is the most serious act of political violence since the return of democracy. Christina Force”, Cafiero said on Twitter.
Opposition deputy Cristian Ritondo joined the condemnations of the attack on Kirchner and said in a tweet that “Violence is always the limit, my support for @CFKArgentina. It is very sad that these things happen again in our country. We cannot allow it.”
Another of those who expressed himself was the former president of Brazil Lula: “All my solidarity to the compañera @CFKArgentina victim of a fascist criminal who does not know how to respect differences and diversity. Cristina is a woman who deserves the respect of any democrat in the world Thank God she came out unscathed.” express on Twitter the also candidate for the October elections in the South American country.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, meanwhile, rejection on behalf of his country the attack against Fernández de Kirchner.
The Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, also pronounced against the assassination attempt on Fernández and said that it is “essential to clarify and investigate to reject violence and do justice”.
United States Ambassador to Argentina Marc Stanley said which rejects “violence, extremism and hatred everywhere”.
While Pope Francis sent a telegram to the vice president of Argentina after the attack against him. The pope expressed his solidarity and affirmed that he prays that respect for “democratic values” prevail in Argentina.
Here you can read more reactions after the attack.
With information from Emilia Delfino, Iván Pérez Sarmenti, Ignacio Grimaldi, Juan Pablo Varsky, Germán Padinger and Abel Alvarado.