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Archive for Argentina

Newsline: Argentina’s ambassador in Venezuela slams ‘hijacking’ of aircraft by courts

Argentina’s ambassador to Venezuela Oscar Laborde has hit out at the local courts over its decision to detain the Emtrasur aircraft held at Argentina’s Ezeiza Airport at the request of the United States, describing it as a plot to “harm” the relationship between Caracas and Buenos Aires. “There is a feeling of injustice in the Venezuelan people. There is clearly an intention on the part of the courts and many people are suffering from it,” said the envoy, referring to the plane held at Ezeiza since June 8 along with its 19 crew members, of whom five are Iranian citizens. Laborde went on to declare that the aircraft “is confiscated because the judge has so determined without apparently finding anything to reproach” the crew members still being held in this country. He later described the move as a “hijacking.” (https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/latin-america/argentinas-ambassador-in-venezuela-slams-hijacking-of-aircraft-by-courts.phtml) The comments, delivered this week during an interview with the local AM750 radio station, prompted a wave of condemnation from the opposition, which accused the envoy of backing the “illegitimate” government led by Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro.

Newsline: Man crashes car into gate of Chinese embassy in Argentina

A man drove a car into the front gate of the Chinese Embassy in Buenos Aires on Monday, prompting a major response by police, officials said. There were no injuries reported, though the crash did severely damage embassy property, according to a statement shared with Reuters by the Chinese Embassy. Multiple police units responded to the scene, and officers blocked off the street in front of the embassy. The driver of the car is Argentine, though his identity and the reason for the crash is under investigation, the embassy said. “The Argentine Police quickly went to the diplomatic headquarters and is now investigating the identity and motives of the actor in incident,” the embassy’s statement said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-argentina-china/man-crashes-car-into-gate-of-chinese-embassy-in-argentina-idUSKBN23U06I) Federal and city police did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Argentina’s Foreign Ministry declined comment.

Newsline: Mexican ambassador caught shoplifting in Buenos Aires resigns

Mexico’s ambassador to Argentina resigned on Sunday citing health problems following new allegations of shoplifting after video from late October showed the diplomat attempting to steal a $10 book. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-diplomacy/mexican-ambassador-caught-shoplifting-in-buenos-aires-resigns-idUSKBN1YR02J) Ricardo Valero was recalled earlier this month by Mexico’s foreign ministry amid the fallout from the Oct. 26 incident at a well-known Buenos Aires book store in which he can be seen on security camera footage taking the volume from a shelf and then hiding it inside the pages of a newspaper he tucked under his arm. The book was reportedly a biography of Giacomo Casanova, the 18th century Italian writer, soldier and spy mainly remembered as a charming adventurer.

Newsline: Mexico Ambassador to Argentina Recalled Over Alleged Shoplifting

Mexico’s Ambassador to Argentina has been called home after a report that he tried to shoplift a $10 biography on Casanova from one of the world’s most famous bookstores. Oscar Ricardo Valero Recio Becerra was recalled on Sunday by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard after newspaper reports that he tried to steal the 590-peso book on the famous 18th century playboy from El Ateneo in Buenos Aires at the end of October. Ebrard said in a Twitter post that he asked the ministry’s ethics committee to analyze the accusation against the 76-year-old diplomat and if a video of the alleged theft that’s circulating proves to be true, he’ll be removed from his job immediately. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-09/mexico-ambassador-to-argentina-recalled-over-alleged-shoplifting) “Zero tolerance for dishonesty,” Ebrard said. Mexico’s ambassador to the South American nation was named by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and had previously been a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He spent much of his academic career studying political science and Mexico’s role in international relations, and was also ambassador to Chile from 2001 to 2004.

Newsline: Saudi Crown Prince Hiding in the Embassy?

Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Argentina was supposed to help him rebuild his shattered reputation after the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But Argentine judicial authorities have turned back that effort as they take steps toward investigating the crown prince’s connection with alleged war crimes by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and torture by Saudi officials. The crown prince, known as MBS, seems to understand that. He was scheduled to stay with his 400-member delegation at the Four Seasons hotel, one of the fanciest in Buenos Aires. Instead he has moved into the Saudi embassy, which has turned into a fortress with metal barricades and bullet-proof windows added this week, the Argentine media reported. He was reportedly planning to visit the city on Thursday but did not leave the embassy all day. On November 26, Human Rights Watch filed a submission with an Argentine federal prosecutor, asking him to examine the crown prince’s possible responsibility for torture of Saudi citizens in government custody and violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen. The violations include carrying out indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes that killed thousands of civilians and maintaining a blockade that has contributed to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Two days later, the federal prosecutor who was assigned the case endorsed the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows judicial authorities to investigate and prosecute international crimes no matter where they were committed, and regardless of the nationality of the suspects or their victims. He and an investigating federal judge moved forward toward an investigation. They requested information from other governments on the status of investigations elsewhere into these allegations, and from Argentina’s Foreign Ministry on the crown prince’s diplomatic and immunity status in Argentina. If a formal investigation is opened, it will take time. The crown prince is going to be in Buenos Aires only for a few days, so there is little chance that he will be vulnerable to questioning or arrest while he is in Argentina. But the fact that justice officials are already taking steps toward an investigation sends a powerful message.


Newsline: Police suspect arson after fire at Stockholm embassy building injures 14

Police in Stockholm have arrested a man on suspicion of arson after a fire at an embassy building injured 14 people. The alarm was raised about the fire at the Narvavägen building housing the embassies of Portugal, Tunisia, Argentina and Belgium as well as apartments and a restaurant at around lunchtime on Wednesday afternoon. “The operation is still ongoing. Around 14 people have been affected by the fire, with no serious injuries but smoke and minor injuries,” Stockholm police press spokesperson Kjell Lindgren told The Local. “The latest information from the fire fighters is that there’s no one left in the building, but they’re still working to extinguish the fire in the apartment section.” Lindgren said police were looking to speak to a person who they “think could have something to do with” the incident, with a description released to the public in an effort to locate him. Asked if it’s thought the fire was started deliberately, Lindgren affirmed “we think it was lit by someone, which is why we’ve started an investigation into arson”. An arrest was made in central Stockholm just after 2pm on Wednesday, with a man arrested suspected of arson on reasonable grounds (the lower degree of suspicion according to Swedish law).


Newsline: German Police Arrest Suspected Mastermind in Russian Embassy Cocaine Scandal

German police have arrested the suspected mastermind of a busted drug smuggling operation that reportedly ran hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from South America to Moscow on a Russian presidential plane. Six people were arrested after nearly 400 kilograms of cocaine were discovered at the Russian Embassy school grounds in Buenos Aires, authorities said last week. The man who allegedly supplied the drugs, initially identified as “Mr. K” and later named as Andrei Kovalchuk, was reported to be in hiding in Germany after the story broke. “His wife called me and said that Kovalchuk was detained as part of the criminal case on narcotics,” Interfax cited Kovalchuk’s lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov as saying Friday. “As expected, the police intend to go to court for his arrest,” he added. An unnamed Russian law enforcement official told the Rosbalt news agency on Monday that Kovulchuk had previously been employed as a staff member at the Russian Embassy in Berlin. Russia’s Foreign Ministry released a statement Tuesday denying that Kovalchuk was ever employed by Russia’s diplomatic missions in Germany and “in general never worked for the Foreign Ministry.” Before his arrest, Kovalchuk claimed that he had been set-up in a “well-organized provocation” by American authorities, saying that his Argentinian suitcases with coffee, cigars and alcohol had been replaced by cocaine.


Newsline: Russian Embassy in Germany says man featured in coke case was not staff member

Reports claiming that the suspected mastermind of a criminal scheme for shipping drugs from Argentina to Russia, Andrei Kovalchuk used to be a member of personnel at the Russian embassy in Germany are totally fictitious and contradict reality, Denis Mikerin, the embassy’s press attache wrote on Facebook. “I was really surprised when I came across a story published by Rosbalt Internet portal, which claimed on the background the ongoing flow of concoctions that the man suspected of organizing the criminal scheme, Andrei Kovalchuk, had been a member of the staff of the Russian embassy in Germany,” he wrote. “Quite naturally, the journalists drew far-fetched conclusions.” Mikerin promised the mission would verify the information in detail. “We can state with a hundred percent assuredness that, to the best of our knowledge, Kovalchuk never had a position on the staff of our embassy while the information circulated by Rosbalt simply stands at variance with reality,” he said. The Foreign Ministry said earlier the Russian and Argentine law enforcement agencies had held a joint operation to plug a channel for delivery of a large consignment of drugs (389 km of coke) to the European market and had detained the suspects, who were Argentine and Russian citizens.


Newsline: Russian Foreign Ministry says cocaine found at embassy in Argentina unrelated to diplomatic mail

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has rejected media reports that cocaine discovered in one of the facilities of Russia’s embassy in Argentina has any relation to diplomatic mail, Zakharova wrote on the Facebook page of the Russian Foreign Ministry on Saturday. Earlier, some media outlets said that cocaine had been found in several suitcases that were alleged diplomatic mail of the Russian embassy to Argentina. “The news circulated by the media that it was diplomatic mail are not true. A technical worker was dealing with these white but foul things,” Zakharova wrote. “However, diplomatic mail is readied by diplomats.” “The technical worker had neither a diplomatic passport not access to diplomatic mail,” she said. Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that law enforcement agencies of Russia and Argentina carried out a joint operation to cut off a channel smuggling a large batch of narcotic drugs (cocaine) to Europe. Suspects, Argentine as well as Russian nationals, have been detained.


Newsline: 400 kilos of cocaine found in Russian embassy in Argentina

Six people, including a former Russian diplomat and an Argentinian police officer, have been arrested following an investigation into cocaine smuggling through the Russian Embassy in Buenos Aires. The arrests were the result of a joint operation between Russia and Argentina which began in December 2016 when cocaine was discovered on the embassy’s grounds. “We have dismantled an international cocaine trafficking organization operating between Argentina, Russia and Germany,” Argentina’s Security Minister Patricia Bullrich told journalists on Thursday. Russia’s Ambassador to Argentina Viktor Koronelli in late 2016 alerted local authorities after finding 16 bags of drugs hidden in a school on the embassy’s grounds. Argentinian police seized the 389 kilograms of cocaine worth over $60 million and replaced it with bags of flour fitted with a tracking device, Reuters reports. The bags were then traced as they were shipped to Russia as diplomatic luggage in December last year. Two men who collected the bags in Russia have been arrested. Bullrich named a “Mr. K,” who “remains at large in Germany” as responsible for supplying the cocaine to the Russian Embassy. A former embassy official identified as Ali Abyanov, who reportedly helped plan the shipment, was detained at his apartment in Moscow on Thursday, media report.