By ALMUDENA CALATRAVA
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A third person has been arrested as part of the investigation into the assassination attempt on Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernández — a move that suggests the incident could have involved a network of people.
Agustina Díaz, who appears to have at least been a close friend of the girlfriend of the man accused of trying to shoot Fernández on Sept. 1, was detained Monday in the province of Buenos Aires, an official with the knowledge of the case confirmed to The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the investigation.
Fernando Sabag Montiel, a 35-year-old Brazilian citizen, was detained shortly after he pointed a handgun at Argentina’s vice president outside her home. He pulled the trigger twice, but the Bersa handgun failed to go off, though it was loaded with five bullets.
His girlfriend, Brenda Uliarte, a 23-year-old Argentine who reportedly was at the scene of the attempted shooting, was arrested three days later.
Uliarte and Sabag Montiel are both accused of trying to assassinate Fernández, the most important political figure in Argentina of the last 15 years. She was president for two terms from 2007 to 2015 and now has both ardent followers and detractors.
Uliarte had Díaz’s contact saved in her phone as “love of my life” and the two were in touch before and after the assassination attempt. Díaz reportedly helped Díaz escape the scene after the assassination attempt, according to the official.
“With what we’re learning until now, the role Brenda played becomes more relevant,” the official said.
Sabag Montiel has been living in Argentina since the 1990s. Photos posted to his now-inactive social networks appear to show he has tattoos with Nazi symbols on his arms and hands.
Judicial investigators are using security footage and cellphone communications to try to reconstruct what happened in the days before the attempted shooting and whether there were any suspicious people present around the vice president’s home on the days before the attack.
The streets surrounding the vice president’s home had been filled with supporters for days after a prosecutor requested a 12-year prison sentence, as well as a lifetime prohibition on holding public office, against Fernández due to alleged corruption involving public works during her administration.
Fernández has denied all charges and says she is the victim of a political persecution meant to get her out of public office.
Meanwhile, officials said Fernández also received a death threat through a call placed to the 911 emergency line.
The call was made from the city of La Plata, around 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of Buenos Aires, and “is being investigated,” Security Minister Aníbal Fernández said.