SANTIAGO – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet filed suit on Tuesday over the publication of a wiretapped telephone conversation which allegedly connects her to an illicit real estate operation.
“Legal action is being taken by the president of the republic after consulting with her attorneys, and is being taken as an individual,” spokesman Marcelo Diaz said.
The lawsuit has been filed against those responsible for the wiretapped messages involving the president in the Caval case, in which her daughter-in-law Natalia Compagnon is implicated.
Que Pasa, which in February 2015 broke the news about the Caval case, published online last Thursday the transcript of a conversation of Juan Diaz with an unknown person, in which the president is mentioned.
“I told them, look, this is a question of payment. I’m not going to get in a fever over it, but if I say anything, the old lady (Bachelet) will have to resign immediately...” says the recording of a person thought to be Juan Diaz, a real estate dealer who was tried last January in the Caval case.
As soon as she learned about the online article, the president said it was a “set up” and called the message a “dirty trick” and “slander.”
Que Pasa – a magazine belonging to Copesa, one of Chile’s most important publishing groups – admitted hours later that the authenticity of the recording’s content had not been verified, deleted the text from its Web site and issued an apology.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor in the Caval case, Sergio Moya, told the daily El Mercurio last Sunday that Juan Diaz – who is currently under house arrest – “knew or suspected” that he was being recorded when he made the statement.
The prosecutor added that “a lot of things that he (Juan Diaz) said in the recorded phone messages were done to build his defense strategy.”
He also said that in Diaz’s sworn statement to prosecutors, he did not repeat statements about the president that are heard in the wiretapping.
Since the Caval case exploded in January of last year, it has dealt a costly blow to Bachelet’s popularity.
Natalia Compagnon, wife of the president’s eldest son, is being investigated for suspected influence peddling and the wrongful use of privileged information in order to reap a profit of roughly $4 million on a real estate transaction.