Argentine ex-leader Menem convicted, again

Argentine ex-leader Menem convicted, again

BUENOS AIRES - Agence France-Presse
Argentine ex-leader Menem convicted, again

AFP photo

Argentine ex-president Carlos Menem was convicted on corruption charges on Dec. 1, but as with a previous arms trafficking sentence he will escape prison time thanks to his immunity as a senator.

Menem, Argentina’s president from 1989 to 1999, was convicted of masterminding the illegal overpayment of high-ranking officials’ salaries.

He was sentenced to four and a half years, but the ruling is largely symbolic.

The 85-year-old former leader skipped the court hearing, saying he had health problems.

Menem was once wildly popular, leading Argentina through a period of rapid economic growth in the 1990s and titillating Argentines with his fondness for fast cars and women half his age.

But his popularity plummeted as his key economic policies unraveled after his tenure, culminating in a devastating 2001 crisis that triggered riots in the streets.

In 2013 he was sentenced to seven years for trafficking arms to Croatia and Ecuador.

He is also currently on trial for allegedly obstructing the investigation into a 1994 attack on a Buenos Aires Jewish center that killed 85 people.

Also sentenced on Dec. 1 were former economy minister Domingo Cavallo and former justice minister Raul Granillo Ocampo, who each got three years and three months.