Córdoba deputy federal judge Liliana Navarro declared yesterday that Mateo Goretti would have been well aware that artifacts in his name were stolen, and further actions are to be decided by the prosecution.
Goretti, an advisor to Macri’s Ministry of Finance, previously maintained that he had bought the pieces in good faith. Navarro countered that Goretti “could not have been unaware” of the origin of the relics, as he was a “private collector and a connoisseur of pre-Colombian art, and has written books on the subject”.
“We are talking about theft to public property,” said judge Navarro, as reported by local publication Los Andes. “Therefore, they cannot be dealt or sold privately; these pieces were a part of a museum and should be available to the people.”
Clarín reported that the archaeological pieces were stolen from a museum in Río Ceballos, Córdoba, in 2008; around the same time that Goretti came to office. There were 58 artifacts in total, dating from 500 to 1000AD, with a cumulative value estimated at around US$ 700,000.
The pieces were retrieved after Interpol led four simultaneous raids in Capital Federal and San Isidro.
The city government has since made strides to distance itself from the scandal and Goretti himself.
“Goretti has no role in the government,” Horacio Rodríguez Larreta told radio América in a recent interview, calling him an “honorary member”. “He has all of the documentation needed to show this in court.”
However, Télam published an official government bulletin from December 10, 2007, that names Italian-born Goretti as “plant personnel of Cabinet, Ministry of Finance, honorary character”.
Despite Judge Navarro’s conviction of Goretti’s culpability, he has not yet been officially charged with a crime. In a federal courts conference in Córdoba, Navarro said he is not yet “deprived of liberty,” but that prosecutor Enrique Senestrari is expected to soon issue the arrest. Goretti has asked to be exempt from federal prison.