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President of the Chilean Senate investigated for migrant smuggling and bribery

Yvo Salinas | Agencia UNO
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The president of the Chilean Senate, Andrés Zaldívar, is currently facing an investigation for migrant smuggling and bribery charges by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Allegedly, Mr Zaldívar would have contacted the current director of Consular Affairs and Immigration, Carlos Appelgreen, to “check” on the issue of visas for 32 Chinese citizens who entered Chile between June and July this year at the invitation of bussinessman Álvaro Jofré.

Jofré affirmed that they were his guests and that they would stay at a hotel. Nonetheless, the Police of Investigations launched an enquiry against him as they, in the end, entered the country with tourist visas.

During a press conference this afternoon, the senator confirmed that his cellphone has been bugged because of the investigation.

Also, he categorically rejected the allegations against him, which he described as “slander”.

Mr Zaldívar's press conference. Pablo Ovalle Isasmendi | Agencia NO
Mr Zaldívar’s press conference. Pablo Ovalle Isasmendi | Agencia NO

However, Zaldívar did admit that he was told about the situation and that he got in contact with the corresponding authorities, as he usually does with any issue presented to him.

“I am clean”, he said before the press at the Congress. “I have devoted my entire life to public service, my hands are clean. I cannot accept that someone accuses me of something that does not exist. I have not been involved in people trafficking let alone migrants”, senator Zaldívar added.

Besides, Zaldívar informed that he instructed his lawyer to study the situation at hand and prepare both the administrative and legal actions necessary to prove that said accusations are “false, absurd and with no grounds”.

Moreover, he expressed his concern given the fact that a part of the legal dossier was leaked to the press and parts of it were quoted literally by a national broadsheet during an interview.

This happens to be a particularly tough time for Mr Zaldívar, 81, who did not get reelected during Sunday’s General Election. Thus, he is going to leave Congress after 3 non-consecutive terms in office, that is 24 years in the Upper House.

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