Argentine ex-Finance Minister Miceli jailed for corruption

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Former Argentine Finance Minister Felisa MiceliImage source, AFP
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Former Argentine Finance Minister Felisa Miceli says her mistake was not a crime

Former Argentina Finance Minister Felisa Miceli has been sentenced to four years in prison for corruption.

A court found her guilty of covering up an allegedly illegal financial operation and of obstructing justice.

Mrs Miceli - who was also barred from public office for eight years - said she would prove her innocence.

She resigned in 2007 after a bag with about $52,000 (£32,000) in mixed currencies was found in the bathroom of her office.

The former minister during Nestor Kirchner's presidency has always maintained her innocence.

She says the money in the sealed bag was a loan from her now deceased brother and was to be used to buy a house.

"It was clear throughout the trial that there's no convincing evidence," she said after the court ruling. "I made a mistake but now it seems like it's a crime."

The judges said the money came from a "spurious source" and that the case was aggravated by the fact that she was a minister at the time.

Mrs Miceli, who was the first woman to become finance minister in Argentina, was also found guilty over the disappearance of the police file covering the discovery of the money bag.

The packet was found in a cupboard in the minister's bathroom office during a routine check by bomb squad officials, who considered it suspicious.

Trial dismissed

Meanwhile, Argentina's highest criminal court has confirmed the dismissal of a trial against former President Fernando de la Rua, who was accused of being responsible for the killing of five protesters in 2001.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
A trial against former President Fernando de la Rua has been dismissed

It said Mr de la Rua's decision to declare a state of siege to deal with widespread rioting and looting was legitimate, rejecting murder and other charges against the former president.

Mr de la Rua was elected in 1999 but resigned two years later, amid the worst economic crisis the country has ever seen.

The unrest caused left around 30 people dead.

In December 2001, after days of clashes in the city centre, the president resigned and famously left the presidential palace in a helicopter.

Mr de la Rua is also facing trial on accusations of bribing senators to approve a labour reform bill in 2000.

Prosecutors say Mr de la Rua paid some $5m to secure the votes of a group of senators in favour of legislation scrapping workers' rights.

He denies the charges and says the accusations are politically motivated. The trial is ongoing.