Corruption is a significant problem in many countries around the world. In a case that has shaken Argentina to its foundations, Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption. Fernandez, 69, was convicted of “fraudulent administration” for allegedly awarding public works contracts to friends and family.
However, it’s doubtful that she’ll spend any time behind bars.
Due to her government positions, Fernandez is protected in some ways, and she will likely begin a protracted appeals process. She has been permanently disqualified from holding public office, albeit she will remain in her current position as vice president while the matter is appealed.
The prosecution requested a 12-year prison term.
Fernandez claimed the accusations against her were fabricated for political reasons. She said she felt like she had been victimized by a “judicial mafia” after the verdict was announced, as reported by the Associated Press.
She had also claimed that the prosecutors were lying and smearing her reputation before the verdict was announced. It’s never happened before in Argentina’s history for a vice president to be convicted of a felony while in office.
According to the prosecution, Fernandez ran an illegal partnership while serving as president of Argentina from 2007 to 2015. Her alleged kickback scheme involved awarding lucrative public work contracts to a buddy in exchange for bribes.
Construction company owner Lazaro Baez, allegedly the scheme’s primary beneficiary, was also given a six-year prison term. He was already serving a 12-year term for money laundering, which he had received the year before.
There were a total of eleven defendants. Seven were found guilty and given sentences ranging from 3.5 to 6 years in prison; three were released, and one had their case withdrawn.
Prosecutors claimed they found corruption in dozens of government contracts issued in Fernandez’s home province of Santa Cruz in the south. Many building projects were started but never finished.
“Probably the biggest corruption operation the country has known,” said prosecutor Diego Luciani.
Also, he claimed that the Argentine government lost at least $1bn (£818m) due to the alleged kickback system.
The case has split Argentine society down the middle, with some people finding sympathy for the populist politician Fernandez and others finding her repulsive. In Buenos Aires, her backers flooded the streets to show their support for the vice president. They have clashed with others who call Fernandez a “thief,” a charge she has often denied.
On September 1st, an attempt was made on Fernandez’s life during one of these meetings.
The weapon that the 35-year-old man was aiming at the vice president’s head jammed as he tried to point it at her. The man was pointing the gun at her head. The man is facing charges of attempted murder in connection with the incident.
Ms. Fernandez has been found guilty and given a prison sentence, but she will not be immediately taken into custody. Given her position as Senate President, she will have some immunity, allowing her to remain free and in the office while she challenges the verdict to the Supreme Court.
Due to the lengthy appeals process, she will likely be eligible to run for office again in 2023.