BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, Jun 17 – It’s been a heck of a week for Jose Lopez, an Argentine ex-cabinet minister who was arrested trying to hide bags stuffed with cash and jewels at a monastery.
On Monday, Lopez, 55, seemed like any ordinary politician, with a slight paunch, greying hair and a fairly anodyne job as a member of the South American regional parliament.
On Tuesday, he was caught red-handed tossing 160 suitcases and duffel bags containing more than $9 million over a wall into the garden of an old monastery outside Buenos Aires.
On Wednesday, his lawyer said he was delirious and suffering hallucinations.
And on Thursday, he showed up at his first court appearance hitting himself on the head, shouting and demanding cocaine.
His lawyer, Fernanda Herrera – who is better known in Argentina as a cumbia singer and former model – says her client is mentally unfit to testify.
Herrera, a curvaceous peroxide blonde, had an ambulance take Lopez to the hospital Wednesday after his arrest.
But doctors who examined him said they found nothing wrong besides stress and high blood pressure.
The bizarre case is scandalous even by the standards of Argentina, a country that has been around the block a few times when it comes to corruption.
Lopez served for 12 years in the cabinets of Argentina’s last two presidents, Nestor and Cristina Kirchner, as the deputy minister for public works.
His unexplained bags of cash have embarrassed the left-wing power couple’s party, the Front for Victory, which is still stinging from losing the presidency to business-friendly conservative Mauricio Macri in December.