Fernando Sabag Montiel, the 35-year-old man who tried to assassinate Argentina’s vice-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner last September, has just broken his public silence. His trial for attempted murder will begin soon, and while he has been held in pretrial detention for the last five months, Sabag Montiel recently incriminated himself on television. “Imagine how nervous I was,” he recounted in a brief phone conversation with the television news channel C5N. “I pulled the trigger and the shot didn’t go off. The gun had five bullets in it,” he said.
Sabag also stated that he has no regrets, that he acted alone, and he insisted on keeping his girlfriend out of it. “Brenda Uliarte had nothing to do with it. I acted out of my own free will, you know? They are making up a story, I acted alone.”
Sabag Montiel and Uliarte are both facing trial as the alleged co-authors of the assassination attempt on the vice-president on September 1, as Fernández de Kirchner was greeting a crowd outside her house. It was the week that the prosecutor’s accusation against her on corruption charges had become public, and her supporters had come out in a show of force. Sabag Montiel infiltrated the crowd that Thursday evening and tried to fire twice, inches from Fernández de Kirchner’s face. “I cocked the gun, and when I pulled the trigger it didn’t go off. In such a crowd, with so many people, I was nervous,” he said. He was arrested on the spot.
The television station found his phone number through a letter that Sabag Montiel addressed to federal prosecutor Diego Luciani. Luciani has nothing to do with his case, but he became a media star after heading the accusation that led to Fernández de Kirchner’s conviction for corruption on December 6. In the letter, which was leaked to the media, Sabag Montiel accused Kirchner, the judge handling his case and his lawyers of having “sequestered” him and cut off all his contacts. He also asked Luciani to put “judges that he trusts” in charge of the case against him. “I knew Luciani from TV,” said Sabag Montiel in the conversation with C5N. “It is obvious that Luciani had issues with Cristina.”
Brenda Uliarte, 23, fled the scene but was arrested three days later. While many news outlets were busy debating whether Sabag Montiel was “a crazy man on the loose” or whether it was all a government plot, investigators were pulling on a thread that led to Uliarte. “I ordered Vice Cristina to be killed. It didn’t work out because she went back inside. What a drag, I had her right there. I sent a guy to kill Cristi,” she wrote in a Whatsapp message to to a friend days before: it was not her first attempt.
“The next time I’ll go and pull the trigger myself, Nando [Sabag Montiel] failed. I do know how to shoot well, my hands don’t shake,” she wrote to another friend on the night of the attack. Uliarte, who told the media that she was living with Sabag Montiel and that he was not an extraordinary guy, also told her contacts that she had a plan and enough money to escape.
Besides her, the police also arrested four far-right activists known for having led violent protests against the government, and where Uliarte had been present. One of the suspects, Jonathan Morel, is a carpenter with a small business who, according to Kirchner’s lawyers, received millions of pesos in payments from a company with ties to former Liberal president Mauricio Macri.
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