Argentine lawmaker quits after lewd act during virtual session

Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez (R), Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Economy Minister Martin Guzman attend a news conference to give details about the agreement with major private creditors to restructure Argentina's sovereign debt, at the Casa Rosada Presidential Palace, in Buenos Aires, Argentina

An Argentine lawmaker has resigned after being caught on a live camera caressing his partner before appearing to partially pull down her top and kiss her breast during a virtual session of the country’s lower house of Congress on Thursday.

The lower house of deputies said in a statement on Twitter early on Friday that it had voted to accept the resignation of Juan Ameri, a representative from the northern province of Salta in the ruling coalition.

During a special meeting of the country’s deputies, with a few lawmakers in physical attendance but most others appearing via large screens in the chamber, politician Ameri appeared on a screen sitting with his partner, before performing the lewd act.

Shortly after the incident, which went viral and sparked outrage in Argentina, lawmakers voted to suspend Ameri while a panel was convened to decide his final sanction. It later accepted his resignation.

Virtual meetings amid the coronavirus pandemic have tripped up lawmakers before. In June, Ireland’s Luke Ming Flanagan appeared to be wearing no trousers as he discussed policy matters with his European Parliament peers.

Ameri, in comments to local radio, said that he felt bad about what had happened, adding that his internet connection had been poor and that he had been caught in an intimate moment unawares.

The ruling Frente de Todos coalition said in a statement that the incident had shown a lack of respect for the Argentine people and the legislature, and had called for a strong sanction.

“As representatives of the people we cannot allow irresponsibility of this magnitude,” the party said before Ameri’s resignation was confirmed.

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