Argentina’s Vice President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, has been convicted and sentenced to six years in prison and a lifelong ban from holding public office for a fraud operation that embezzled $1 billion through public works projects during her presidency.
A three-judge panel found the Peronist leader guilty of fraud but dismissed a charge of directing a criminal organization, which could have resulted in a 12-year prison sentence.
[wonderplugin_video iframe=”https://youtu.be/VEbYvCpJal4″ lightbox=0 lightboxsize=1 lightboxwidth=960 lightboxheight=540 autoopen=0 autoopendelay=0 autoclose=0 lightboxtitle=”” lightboxgroup=”” lightboxshownavigation=0 showimage=”” lightboxoptions=”” videowidth=600 videoheight=400 keepaspectratio=1 autoplay=0 loop=0 videocss=”position:relative;display:block;background-color:#000;overflow:hidden;max-width:100%;margin:0 auto;” playbutton=”https://www.tvcnews.tv/wp-content/plugins/wonderplugin-video-embed/engine/playvideo-64-64-0.png”]
It is the first time an Argentine vice president has been convicted of a crime while in office.
Speaking after the verdict, she described herself as the victim of a “judicial mafia.”
Her supporters vowed to paralyze the country with a nationwide strike. They clogged downtown Buenos Aires and marched on the federal court building, beating drums and shouting as they pressed against police barriers.
Fernández roundly denied all the accusations. Argentina’s dominant leader this century, she was accused of improperly granting public works contracts to a construction magnate closely tied to her family.
The verdict is bound to exacerbate schisms in the South American country, where politics can be a blood sport and the 69-year-old populist leader is either admired or despised.
Prosecutors claim Fernández defrauded the government by improperly directing 51 public works projects to Lázaro Báez, a construction entrepreneur and early ally of her and her husband Nestor Kirchner, who served as president from 2003 to 2007 and died tragically in 2010.