Argentina’s vice president narrowly avoided assassination after a gunman’s gun jammed while he was aiming at her.
Footage shows the moment Cristina Fernández de Kirchner – surrounded by a crowd of supporters – came face to face with the loaded gun.
The former president was returning from court, where she faces corruption allegations. She denies the charges.
Police said the shooter, identified by local media as a 35-year-old Brazilian, was taken into custody.
They are trying to establish a motive for the attack on the left-wing politician, who served as Argentina’s president from 2007 to 2015, and its first lady for four years before that.
President Alberto Fernández revealed that the gun was loaded with five bullets, but did not fire when triggered.
Video circulating on social media shows the gun emerging from the crowd as Ms Fernández de Kirchner approaches. She initially seems confused by what is happening, stooping down to retrieve an object that has fallen on the floor.
In another video, people in the crowd appear to be trying to block Ms Fernández de Kirchner from the alleged shooter, who came within inches of her. Crowds have gathered outside her home in recent nights to show support as she fights charges of state fraud and involvement in a scheme to embezzle public funds while she was president.
A police spokesman earlier told Reuters news agency that a weapon was found a few meters from the scene after the man was arrested.
Police have named suspect Fernando Andrés Sabag Montiel, born in Brazil but to an Argentinian mother, who has lived in Argentina since arriving in the country as a child in 1993. He was previously arrested in 2021 while wearing a 35 cm knife.
Photos of him taken from his social media posts and published on Argentine newspaper websites depict him with tattoos associated with neo-Nazi groups.
After searching his apartment, the police seized two boxes containing 100 bullets, according to investigators quoted by the newspaper La Nación.
La Nación also reported that Pope Francis telephoned Ms. Fernández de Kirchner and had a “brief and cordial” conversation with her.
The pope of Argentine origin, who received the vice-president several times at the Vatican, 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 reign in his native country.
Addressing the nation on Thursday evening, President Fernández – who worked as chief of staff to Ms Fernández de Kirchner and her husband during their terms – said: “Cristina remains alive because, for a reason not yet confirmed technically the gun, which contained five bullets, did not fire.”
He went on to condemn the attacker and said the attempt on Ms Fernández de Kirchner’s life was one of the “most serious” incidents since the country’s return to democracy in 1983.
“We may disagree, we may have deep disagreements, but hate speech cannot take place because it breeds violence and there is no way violence will co-exist with democracy,” the president said. Fernández, declaring a national holiday on Friday to give Argentines time to “express themselves.” themselves in defense of life, of democracy and in solidarity with our vice-president”.
Argentine Economy Minister Sergio Massa called the attempted shooting an “assassination attempt”.
“When hate and violence prevail over debate, societies are destroyed and situations like this arise: attempted assassination,” he said in a tweet.
Ms. Fernández de Kirchner has yet to comment.
She is accused of defrauding the state and fraudulently awarding public works contracts in her Patagonian stronghold while she was president between 2007 and 2015.
If found guilty at trial, prosecutors have asked that the ex-president face 12 years in prison and a lifetime ban from politics.
However, Ms. Fernández de Kirchner is the President of the Senate and therefore enjoys parliamentary immunity. She would only be imprisoned if her conviction is ratified by the country’s Supreme Court, or if she loses her Senate seat in the next election at the end of 2023.
Ms. Fernández de Kirchner faced numerous other corruption trials after her term as president. The verdict of this trial should take a few months.
Watch a video of the incident below;
. VIDEO discover how vicepresident argentina escaped the assassination after tear got stuck