Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina’s vice-president, narrowly avoided assassination after a loaded gun jammed in an attempt to kill her.
Footage shows the moment when Fernández de Kirchner, surrounded by a mob of supporters, finds herself face-to-face with a gunman carrying a loaded weapon upon arriving to her home from court. She currently faces allegations of corruption.
Fernández de Kirchner served as both first lady for four years and then as president from 2007 to 2015. The perpetrator has been identified as a 35-year-old Brazilian man who has been taken into custody.
Earlier, a police spokesperson told reporters that the weapon he used in the attempted assassination was found a few meters away from the scene after he had been arrested.
After searching his apartment, it was further reported that police seized two boxes containing one hundred bullets.
Moments surrounding the attempted assassination of Fernández de Kirchner
A viral video circulating on social media shows the gun emerging from the crowd as Ms. Fernández de Kirchner approaches. She appears confused by what is going on, ducking down to retrieve an object dropped on the floor.
Other footage shows people in the crowd appearing as if they are attempting to block Ms. Fernández de Kirchner from the suspected gunman, who came within inches of her.
Having been summoned to court recently, a crowd had begun gathering outside her home the last few nights in a show of support as she fights charges of corruption during her presidency.
Police identified the suspect as Fernando Andrés Sabag Montiel, a Brazilian-born man with an Argentine mother who has lived in Argentina since his arrival to the country as a child in 1993.
The suspect had previously been arrested in 2021 while carrying a 35-centimeter-long knife. Pictures of him from his social media posts depict him with tattoos associated with neo-Nazi groups.
Attempt on Argentina’s vice-president ‘most serious’ in the country
Argentina President Alberto Fernández condemned the attack and said the attempt on the Vice-President’s life was one of the “most serious” incidents since the country’s return to democracy in 1983.
The President noted that “Cristina remains alive because for a reason not yet technically confirmed, the gun, which contained five bullets, did not fire.”
“We can disagree, we can have deep disagreements, but hate speech cannot take place because it breeds violence and there is no chance of violence coexisting with democracy,” President Fernández said.
The President also declared a national holiday on Friday to allow Argentines time to express themselves in defense of life, democracy, and in solidarity with the Vice-President.
Argentina’s economy minister, Sergio Massa, called the attempted shooting an “attempted assassination” in a tweet. “When hate and violence prevail over debate, societies are destroyed and situations like these arise [leading to] attempted assassination,” he said.
A local news agency reported that Pope Francis, who is Argentine-born and has served as Vice-President of the Vatican several times, also sent her a telegram in which he expressed “solidarity and closeness” with her.
He added that he was praying for “social harmony and respect for democratic values” to prevail in his native country.
Vice-President Fernández de Kirchner has faced numerous corruption charges
Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is accused of defrauding the state and of fraudulently awarding public work contracts in her stronghold in Patagonia between 2007 and 2015 during her presidency.
Aside from current accusations, Fernández de Kirchner has faced numerous other corruption charges following her time as President. The verdict of this trial is not expected for another several months.
If convicted, prosecutors have asked that the former President face twelve years in prison and a lifetime ban from politics.
Being a Senate President and so enjoying parliamentary immunity, she would not be imprisoned unless her sentence was either ratified by the country’s Supreme Court or she loses her Senate seat at the next elections at the end of 2023.
Ms. Fernández de Kirchner, however, has not yet made any comment since the charges.