‘Crazy’ Argentine ex-minister demands cocaine in court
An Argentine former cabinet minister arrested while trying to hide suitcases of cash and jewels at a monastery shouted and asked for cocaine during his first court appearance Thursday, media reports said.
Jose Lopez, a former deputy minister for public works, appeared nervous, hit himself on the head and cried out that he wanted cocaine, court sources told news channel TN and newspaper La Nacion.
Lopez, who is currently a member of South American regional assembly Parlasur, appeared lost and could not remember his date of birth when he appeared before a federal judge on corruption charges, the sources said.
He declined to make any statement to the court.
The 55-year-old politician was caught Tuesday throwing suitcases and duffel bags stuffed with nearly $9 million in cash over the wall of an old monastery now inhabited by nuns.
A nun present when he was arrested said Lopez was “half crazy” and told her: “They’re going to put me in jail… because I stole money to help you.”
His lawyer, Fernanda Herrera — who is better known in Argentina as a cumbia singer and former model — says her client is mentally unfit to testify.
She told journalists Wednesday he was delirious and hallucinating.
But doctors who examined Lopez said they found nothing wrong with him besides stress and high blood pressure.
Lopez served for 12 years in the cabinets of Argentina’s last two presidents, Nestor and Cristina Kirchner.
He and his boss, former planning minister Julio de Vido, managed the federal government’s public works projects. They were the only two ministers to survive the various cabinet reshuffles across the Kirchners’ 12 years in power (2003-2015).
The case has deeply embarrassed the left-wing power couple’s party, the Front for Victory.
The party is still stinging from losing the presidency to business-friendly conservative Mauricio Macri in December.