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Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, sentenced to six years in prison and disqualified for life for fraudulent administration

The current Argentine vice-president will not go to prison for the time being because she can still appeal the sentence
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AFP/JUAN IGNACIO RONCORONI  -   The court sentenced Cristina Fernandez to six years in prison and disqualified her for life from holding public office

"The sentence was already written," said Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina's vice-president, after being sentenced to six years in prison and disqualified for life from holding public office for fraudulent administration to the detriment of the public administration. This is a historic development because it is the first time that a female vice-president in office has been convicted in court. 

An Argentine federal court found Cristina Fernández guilty of fraud against the state after she allegedly favoured a businessman in the province of Santa Cruz, where the current Argentine vice-president and her husband Néstor Kirchner, the late former national president, both had political careers. The judges found Cristina Fernández guilty of the crime of fraudulent administration of public funds, during the Kirchnerist governments between 2003 and 2015, but the magistrates, however, acquitted her of charges of alleged illicit association.

The ruling is controversial because Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has many supporters, but also many detractors in the opposition Peronist movement, which produces a great social division. In this case, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in different parts of Argentina to support the vice-president, who said on social networks that "the sentence was already written", exercising a certain victimhood. "It is clear that the idea was to condemn me", said Cristina Fernández, who spoke of a certain part of the opposition, some judges and the media as part of a "parallel state that dominates Argentina". The authorities set up heavy security around the Comodoro Py courthouse, where the court ruling was to be published, to prevent incidents as Cristina Fernández's supporters gathered to criticise the court ruling and to defend the Argentine vice-president. 

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AP/VICTOR R. CAIVANO - A supporter of Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernandez cries as she holds an Argentine flag after hearing the verdict outside the Federal Court building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022

The former Argentinean president will not go to jail for the time being because she still has several judicial instances to appeal the sentence and could continue to hold public office and even stand for election again if she so prefers while the sentence is being finalised. It should be remembered that elections are scheduled in Argentina in October 2023 and the election is very important. Despite this, Fernández de Kirchner herself has indicated that she is giving up her candidacy for 2023 to the surprise of many. In any case, the conviction will only become effective when all the judicial steps available for appeal have been completed and when the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina rejects, if it is the case, the last appeal of the convicted woman. A judicial process that could drag on for years. 

Cristina Fernández pointed the finger at judge Ercolini, who followed the case in the investigation stage, although she said that "he did not act alone" and mentioned the Supreme Court itself, according to various media outlets such as the newspaper ABC. Cristina Fernández denounced an alleged "judicial mafia" against her. Even President Alberto Fernández, who has recently been at odds with the vice-president over political disagreements, publicly came out in support of Fernández de Kirchner, in a gesture of closing ranks to protect the Argentine government itself. 

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AFP/LUIS ROBAYO - A supporter of Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner tears down a security fence outside the Comodoro Py Courts in Buenos Aires on December 6, 2022

Other opposition sectors see the conviction of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as fair, as they believe that the politician was part of a major corruption network that used state mechanisms to benefit itself. 

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AP/GUSTAVO GARELLO - Supporters of Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernandez gather outside Congress after the verdict and sentencing in a conspiracy and fraud case against Fernandez, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022

Along with the former Argentinean president, other former officials and businessmen accused of being part of a corrupt network when the current vice-president was the head of Argentina have also been convicted. Judges found Cristina Fernández guilty of the crime of fraudulent administration of public funds, but acquitted her of charges of alleged illicit association. The court also ordered the confiscation of the effects of the crime consisting of a sum of 84.835 million pesos, which amounts to about 461 million euros.

Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.