Fourth person arrested in Argentina over attempted assassination of Vice President Cristina Fernández de Krichner

Recent developments in the investigation of the assassination attempt against Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner revealed that the group had been planning the attack for some time, and that they had failed in a previous attempt

September 15, 2022 by Tanya Wadhwa
Argentine Vice President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, greeting supporters outside her home in Buenos Aires. (Photo: Cristina Fernández de Kirchner/Twitter)

On Wednesday, September 14, the Argentine Federal Police arrested a fourth suspect in the assassination attempt against Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner earlier this month.

The person arrested is Nicolás Gabriel Carrizo, who is believed to be the leader of the “Los Copitos” group that tried to kill Fernández de Kirchner on September 1. According to reports from local media, the police investigation revealed that Carrizo was spying around the vice president’s home. In video surveillance footage of the cameras installed near the home of the former head of state, he was seen at the corner of the street where her apartment is located multiple times between August 27 and 31.

The investigation further disclosed that hours following the attack on the vice president, Carrizo posted violent messages in his Whatsapp status, threatening President Alberto Fernández. “Surely, you’re next Alberto! Be careful!,” he wrote.

On the night of September 1, Fernando Sabag Montiel, a 35-year-old Brazilian national, tried to shoot the vice president outside her home in Buenos Aires’ Recoleta neighborhood, while she was greeting supporters. Sabag Montiel pulled the trigger of his handgun inches away from her face, but the gun failed to fire. He was immediately caught by the vice-president’s supporters and arrested by the police.

Three days later, on September 4, Sabag Montiel’s partner and accomplice, Brenda Uliarte, 23, was arrested after being identified with Sabag Montiel in the surveillance footage.

On Tuesday, September 13, an associate of Uliarte, Agustina Díaz, 21, was arrested, after a forensic examination of Uliarte’s confiscated cell phone revealed messages between her, Sabag Montiel and Díaz regarding the attack. One of the chats revealed that Uliarte had contacted Díaz before and after the attack, and the latter helped her escape the crime scene following the attack.

Other messages revealed that the group had been planning the attack for some time, and that they had failed in a previous attempt on August 27. This was the night that Fernández de Kirchner addressed supporters who had gathered outside her home to express their support for her in the face of the judicial and political persecution against her. A chat between Sabag Montiel and Uliarte, released in the media, read: “It’s too late now, it’s midnight. She’s upstairs but I don’t think she’ll come out [again], so that’s it, let’s leave it,” Sabag Montiel said in a message to Uliarte. To which she replied: “We have to start going into action. Let’s put a molotov [cocktail] in the Casa Rosada [Argentina’s presidential palace].” Uliarte, then, texted and reported Díaz: “I sent (someone) to kill Cristina. It didn’t work.”

A day after the attack, Uliarte, Carrizo, and a man named Sergio Orozco, appeared in an interview with the Telefe channel, claiming that “they were not aware of Sabag Montiel’s plans” and “they were receiving death threats.” They promised to collaborate with the justice system. Carrizo willingly surrendered his cell phone at the disposal of the authorities after he was summoned to testify.

Amid developments in investigation leading to arrests, on Monday, September 12, Fernández de Kirchner received a death threat. According to reports, a person called the 911 emergency line, from somewhere in the city of La Plata in the Buenos Aires province, and left an intimidating message for the vice president.

On Tuesday, September 13, the federal judge María Eugenia Capuchetti, who is in charge of investigating the attempted assassination of Fernández de Kirchner, confirmed the threats and ordered to reinforce the security of the Peronist leader.

The authorities have not yet been able to identify the person who made the threat, nor the exact location from where the call was made.

Security Minister Aníbal Fernández, in a press conference on Tuesday, assured that “the call is being investigated,” and that the police officers are trying “to reach those responsible.” He added that “although the threatening call was a message to 911, it should not be minimized. For us, any fact, no matter how small it may seem, is important.”

The security minister added that the measures would be taken to strengthen the security of President Alberto Fernández also.

On September 12, in conversation with the Spanish channel Telecinco, revealed that those arrested in the attempted assassination attempt of the vice-president had planned to an attempt against President Fernández as well.

“The conversations of the accused are becoming known, in which they talked about the failed attempt against Cristina, and they said that I would be next. I have to be attentive in case it happens to me, but I cannot separate myself from the people,” said the head of state.

The Federal Police is investigating links between the detainees and the far-right organizations Federal Revolution and the Nation of the Dispossessed, whose members threatened government officials and threw torches at the Casa Rosada during a demonstration in July. The ties between these groups and businessman Nicolás Caputo, a close friend of former conservative President Mauricio Macri, are also being investigated.

On September 14, the head of the Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI), Agustín Rossi, denounced before Judge Capuchetti that Federal Revolution group was behind the attempted assassination of Vice-President CFK and provided audios in which its members talk about their intention to assassinate President Alberto Fernández and deputy Máximo Kirchner. Hours earlier, the founder of the group, Jonathan Morel, acknowledged having received 1,760,000 pesos from Grupo Caputo, a company owned by Nicolás Caputo, “as trust for a job.”