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Protesters halt arrest of 87-year-old Argentine human rights leader

Hundreds of supporters have stopped Argentine police from arresting the 87-year-old president of human rights group Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Hebe de Bonafini faces allegations of embezzlement.

Hebe de Bonafini, head of the prominent human rights group Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, reportedly eluded police dispatched Thursday to escort her to court from her organization's headquarters.

She then boarded a minivan bound for the Plaza de Mayo, an iconic square in front of the presidential palace in Buenos Aires where the Mothers and their sister group, the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, have marched in protest every Thursday since 1977 over

their children's disappearances

under the then military junta.

The groups have led the fight for justice for the thousands of people abducted, tortured and killed by Argentina's 1976-1983 military regime.

Hebe de Bonafini demonstrating against the military junta in the 1970s

Hebe de Bonafini demonstrating against the military junta in the 1970s

"If they have to arrest me, then let them do it," Bonafini told supporters in the square, among them former leftist President Cristina Fernandez.

Investigation into alleged embezzlement

De Bonafini was wanted for questioning over alleged embezzlement of public funds after a judge issued an arrest warrant earlier Thursday following her failure to show up at two citations.

Since 2011, a magistrate has been investigating the alleged diversion of $14 million (12.5 million euros) in funds from a housing project registered in her group's name. It is alleged that some of the funds were diverted to companies unrelated to the housing project.

The group had launched a $53-million program to build housing, schools and health centers in low-income neighborhoods.

De Bonafini and members of Fernandez's 2007-2015 government have accused Fernandez's successor, President Mauricio Macri, of being behind the decision ordering her arrest.

De Bonafini has been a vociferous critic of the business-friendly conservative, who has steadily undone the leftist policies of the previous 12 years, calling him a "son of a bitch" and a "dictator."

jbh/cmk (AP, AFP)

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