Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner sentenced to 6 years in jail

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Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner sentenced to 6 years in jail

AGUSTIN MARCARIAN REUTERS BUENOS AIRES An Argentine court sentenced Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to six years in jail and disqualified her from holding public office in a high-profile corruption case on Tuesday.

The powerful vice president, who has temporary immunity due to her current role, will not face immediate prison time and is expected to appeal the sentence, with the case likely to spend years winding through higher courts.

She could run for office while the appeals are pending, but she said on Tuesday she wouldn't be a candidate for anything in the next year's general election.

Fernandez de Kirchner, who served two terms between 2007 and 2015 and commands rock-star crowds of supporters, faced accusations of corruption in the awarding of public works during her presidency. She has denied the allegations and called the court a firing squad. In a live streamed sentencing, judges from Federal Court 2 in Buenos Aires city found Fernandez de Kirchner guilty of being the criminally responsible author of the crime of fraudulent administration to the detriment of the public administration. The court acquitted her on another count of illicit association. The court had alleged that public works contracts were handed over to construction magnate and ally Lazaro Baez, who channeled money back to Fernandez de Kirchner and late husband Nestor Kirchner, a former president. The Defenders of the Vice President maintain that she is a victim of judicial persecution.

Baez was sentenced on Tuesday to six years in prison.

A supporter places a flag depicting Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner outside the Comodoro Py courthouse before Cristina Fernandez's trial in a corruption case in Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 6, 2022. AGUSTIN MARCARIAN REUTERS It is clear that the idea was always to condemn me, Fernandez de Kirchner said in a live video posted on her YouTube platform after the sentencing. This is a parallel state and judicial mafia. She suggested that she would appeal the verdict, but didn't say outright that it would come from being disqualified for elected office.

She said she would step down when the current term ends in December next year, because she said in 2023 I will not be a candidate for anything, I will no longer have privileges. My name is not going to be on any ballot. Lawyers said that Fernandez de Kirchner would not go to jail anytime soon due to her immunity and the long appeals process. She would have to leave or be removed from office before she could be sent to prison.

She said that higher courts could take years to go over appeals up to the Supreme Court, because she is one of the officials whose removal requires a political trial. I don't believe that the process with a case of this magnitude will take less than three years. The country is on the edge after a long economic crisis and inflation is close to 100%. After she survived an assassination attempt this year, supporters of Fernandez de Kirchner gathered in the streets.

The ruling Peronist government of President Alberto Fernandez is facing a tough battle to fend off a challenge from the conservative opposition in the 2023 election.