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Last Updated: Friday, 2 April, 2004, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Argentina caretaker vows clean-up
Pablo Lanusse, caretaker govenror of Santiago del Estero
Mr Lanusse has three months to restore order
Argentina's justice minister has begun work as caretaker governor of the northern Santiago del Estero province.

Pablo Lanusse told reporters his priority would be to "clean up the province's institutions, which failed to prevent generalised impunity".

The former governor and her husband have been arrested over allegations of corruption, abuses of power and murder.

They have faced growing public protests since two young women were brutally murdered last year.

Demonstrators say there has been a cover-up by officials.

Judicial shake-up

On the first day of his three-month tenure as governor, Mr Lanusse said one of his first steps would be to remove "undeserving" magistrates.

He has also pledged to fight corruption and "clean up the police".

Meanwhile, the suspended Governor Mercedes "Nina" Aragones and her husband - former governor Carlos Juarez - have been arrested.

Judge Angel Toledo says he wanted to question them over allegations of fraud involving the province's pension programme.

They will also answer questions about the January 2003 murders of two young women.

Their mutilated bodies were found on the outskirts of the city of Santiago del Estero.

Murky murders

It was later alleged that the two women had taken part in an orgy which was also attended by members of the provincial government and other prominent local figures.

No arrests were made in the case.

There have been huge demonstrations in Santiago del Estero against a perceived failure by the courts and police to bring the rich and powerful to account for wrongdoing.

Mr Juarez, 87, is himself a former governor. His wife became governor in 2002 and appointed him economy minister.

Between them, they have dominated the political life of the province for more than half a century.

Argentine governor faces arrest
01 Apr 04  |  Americas
Country profile: Argentina
21 Feb 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Argentina
20 Feb 04  |  Country profiles

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