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Argentina’s Vice President gets 6 years for fraud 

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Argentina’s Vice President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has been sentenced to six years in prison and disqualified from holding public office after being found guilty in a $1bn fraud case.

Fernandez de Kirchner, who served as president for two terms between 2007 and 2015 faced charges of alleged corruption in the award of public works during her presidency.

She has denied the allegations and called the court a “firing squad.”

In a live-streamed sentencing, judges from Federal Court 2 in Buenos Aires city found Fernandez de Kirchner guilty as the “criminally responsible author of the crime of fraudulent administration to the detriment of the public administration.”

 The court acquitted her on another count of “illicit association”.

Prosecutors had alleged that public works contracts were handed to construction magnate and ally Lazaro Baez, who channelled money back to Fernandez de Kirchner and her late husband Nestor Kirchner, also a former president.

Baez was also sentenced on Tuesday to six years in prison.

Fernández de Kirchner said that the charges against her were politically motivated.

“It is clear that the idea was always to convict me,” Fernandez de Kirchner said in a live video on her YouTube platform after the sentencing.

“This is a parallel state and judicial mafia.”

Also read: Argentina to tighten import controls 

 She suggested, against popular expectations, that she would not be running for office next year.

“In 2023 I will not be a candidate for anything, I will no longer have privileges,” she said, adding she would step down when the current government term ends in December next year. “My name is not going to be on any ballot.”

 Defenders of the vice president maintain she is a victim of judicial persecution.

The powerful vice president, who has temporary immunity due to her current role, will not face immediate prison time and is expected to appeal the sentence, with the case likely to spend years winding through higher courts.

The sentence marked the first time an Argentinian vice president has been convicted of a crime while in office.

 

Reuters /Zainab Sa’id

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