On March 2, 2022, General Ricardo Martinez announced his resignation as Commander in Chief of the Chilean Army because he was accused of crimes of corruption within the Army. The announcement came a week before his successor, Javier Iturriaga, was to become the new Commander in Chief to serve for four years beginning March 9, 2022. Martinez is the fourth Commander in Chief, of six, following Augusto Pinochet, to be accused of corruption, following Oscar Izurieta (2006-2010), Juan Miguel Fuente Alba (2010-2014), and Humberto Oviedo (2014-2018), who all denied the accusations and declared their innocence -- as did General Martinez.
Martinez was charged with defrauding the military of $44 million and for allegedly using institutional travel funds for his own and his wife's benefit. Judge Romy Rutherford has been investigating the fraud case in the Army since 2011 and she questioned, in particular, eight trips carried out by Martinez while on active duty, during the years 2011-2017; on three of the trips accompanied by his wife. He was placed in preventive detention for three weeks. On April 5, 2022, the Military Tribunal dismissed the prosecution against him.
The decision of the Military Tribunal to dismiss Judge Rutherford's prosecution was a divided one of three judges against two. The majority accepted the defense's argument that the amount of money in the fraud had not been clearly established, that the alleged trips were subject to a statute of limitations and that Martinez had returned some of the money. Now the Council of the Defense of the State (CDE -- a group of 12 lawyers appointed by the President) will have to decide whether to appeal to the Chilean Supreme Court to overturn the Military Tribunal's decision.
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