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Argentina: Cristina Kirchner sentenced to six years in prison

The Argentinian vice-president was found guilty of illicit association and fraudulent administration, but her position protects her from going behind bars.

Cristina Fernandez in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sunday, October 27, 2019.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

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On Tuesday, Dec. 6, Argentinian Vice President Cristina Kirchner was sentenced to 6 years in prison in a trial in which she was accused of fraudulent administration of public funds and illicit association. The Peronist leader’s sentence also includes disqualification from holding public office for life.

In the so-called “Vialidad case,” which began in 2019, potential irregularities were investigated in more than 50 public works contracts given to businessman Lázaro Báez in the province of Santa Cruz during the administrations of Cristina Kirchner and her husband and former President Néstor Kirchner.

The process was suspended for six months due to the health emergency triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, but a conclusion was finally reached. Judges Jorge Gorini, Rodrigo Giménez Uriburu and Andrés Basso agreed that Kirchner should be convicted of fraudulent administration of funds. For the charges of illicit association, however, Basso was the only one who believed that the former president should be found guilty.

"We are certain that, through the processing of 51 public bidding processes for the construction of road works on national and provincial routes in the province of Santa Cruz, between the years 2003 and 2015, an extraordinary fraudulent maneuver took place that harmed the pecuniary interests of the national public administration under the terms and conditions established by criminal law," the Federal Oral Tribunal 2 expressed in a statement explaining the verdict.

It should be noted that the prosecution had requested a 12-year prison sentence for the defendant, in addition to disqualification from ever holding public office. In addition, the conviction is still subject to appeal, which could take years, and Kirchner’s position in public office protects her from going to prison now.

Cristina Kirchner was in the Senate office when she learned of the court's decision, and from there she made her first statements, in which she expressed her discontent.