Latin America & Caribbean

Argentina: Menem sentenced to jail for embezzlement

Carlos Menem in 1999 Image copyright AP
Image caption Carlos Menem was the son of Syrian immigrants who settled in the western province of La Rioja

A federal court in Argentina has sentenced former President Carlos Menem to four-and-a-half years in jail for embezzlement.

Mr Menem, 85, enjoys immunity as a senator and is unlikely to be arrested.

He was sentenced two years ago for involvement in an arms trafficking scheme but did not serve time in jail.

His finance minister during the Argentine economic boom of the 1990s, Domingo Cavallo, has also been found guilty of embezzlement.

Mr Cavallo was sentenced to three years and three months.

He will remain free at least until March, when the court will announce further details of the sentence.

Illegal overpayments scheme

The two men devised a scheme to make overpayments to high-ranking intelligence officers, the court said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Domingo Cavallo (right) was economy minister between 1991 and 1996

They kept a share of the illegal payments for themselves, the judges ruled.

Mr Menem was previously sentenced to seven years in jail in 2013 for his role in a scheme to smuggle weapons and ammunitions to Ecuador and Croatia.

He is also being tried for allegedly obstructing the investigations into a huge bomb attack against a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in 1994.

The attack killed 85 people and injured more than 300.

Mr Menem was president of Argentina between 1989 and 1999.

His lawyers said he could not attend Tuesday's hearing for health reasons.

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