BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — An Argentine judge ordered the arrest Thursday of the president of the human rights groups Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo for refusing to show up for questioning into the alleged embezzlement of public funds meant for a low-income housing project.
But hundreds of leftist militants and supporters of former President Cristina Fernández impeded the efforts of police to arrest 87-year-old Hebe de Bonafini.
De Bonafini had missed two citations for questioning. The first set for July 7, the second for Thursday. A magistrate has been investigating since 2011 the diversion of $14 million in funds from the project registered in the name of the Mothers.
De Bonafini says reporters the investigation was politically motivated and the group’s two legal representatives are to blame. Investigators have determined that part of the funds were diverted to companies unrelated to the housing project.
De Bonafini is the mother of two children who were disappeared during Argentina’s 1976-83 dictatorship. The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo gained fame for standing up to military dictators in the late 1970s, demanding to know their children’s fate.
In recent years, the group became close to Fernández’s leftist government.
The investigating magistrate, Marcelo Martinez de Giorgi, has also cited for questioning the group’s two legal representatives, Sergio and Pablo Schoklender, three former governors, a provincial boss and Julio de Vido, a former planning minister.
De Vido was one of the most powerful members of the Cabinet of Fernández, who governed from 2007-2015.