Hebe de Bonafini
Hebe de Bonafini (C), leader of the human rights group Madres de Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of the disappeared), and other mothers show pictures of the disappeared during their weekly demonstration at Mayo square, in front of the Casa Rosada Presidential Palace, in this undated file photo from the mid-1980's REUTERS/Stringer/Files (ARGENTINA

Hebe de Bonafini, a human rights defender, has been indicted by a judge in Argentina.

The head of human rights organisation – the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo – was formally charged on Monday (15 May) with misusing public funds allocated to a social housing project. The $53m (£40m) Shared Dreams programme was started by the former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to build houses, schools and health centres in low-income neighbourhoods of the country.

Fernandez had given the responsibility of the project to De Bonafini and her foundation. However, the Shared Dreams programme was abruptly halted after the foundation was hit by a financial scandal in 2011.

Prosecutors have alleged that about $13m of public funding in the programme was diverted inappropriately.

The 88-year-old has maintained her innocence and alleged that the government of President Mauricio Macri, who came into power in 2015, was behind this politically-motivated conspiracy.

"Thank you Macri for giving me the honour of being accused," she said sarcastically on Monday.

Who is De Bonafini and what does her foundation do?

Born in the outskirts of Ensenada, nearby the city of La Plata, in 1928, De Bonafini found her life turned upside down when two of her children and a daughter-in-law disappeared in 1970s.

It was found that they were kidnapped and tortured before being killed for voicing against a military junta, which ruled the country between 1976 and 1983.

As a mark of protest, De Bonafini along with other women, whose children had also gone missing, started to meet every Thursday at the Plaza de Mayo square in Buenos Aires in front of the Casa Rosada presidential palace.

They used the platform to demand justice and subsequently, formed the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo.

Since then, the women with their trademark white headscarves march every Thursday afternoon demanding information about at least 30,000 people who were kidnapped, tortured and killed during the country's military dictatorship.

The Mothers' foundation and the controversy

The world-famous foundation found itself engulfed in a serious scandal in 2011 that threatened to scar its image. The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo has been a symbol of the fight for justice for years.

The scandal also highlighted the controversial relationship between the Mothers' leader and her former adviser and right-hand-man, Sergio Schoklender.

Schoklender was accused of murdering his parents and was in jail for several years.

Investigations then revealed that Schoklender was the major shareholder in Meldorek, the construction company used by the Mothers. He was also working with the Mothers' foundation to help manage finances.

However, he was later asked to leave amid controversy over missing funds, unpaid bills and his luxury lifestyle.

The scandal has also highlighted De Bonafini's own controversial past, where she spoke in support of New York Twin Towers attack by the al-Qaeda attack in 2001.

She said, "I felt there were many people at that moment who were happy and felt the blood of so many in that moment was avenged."

The head of the organisation had also criticised Pope John Paul II and accused him to committing many sins.

She had said the pontiff "was going to hell" because of his sinful actions.