Buenos Aires, Argentina — Argentina’s Vice President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, was found guilty of corruption on Tuesday after a months-long trial.
The court sentenced her to six years in prison and banned her from holding public office, however, Fernández de Kirchner is not expected to serve jail time given her immunity as vice president. Appeals are also expected in the case.
She and 12 others — former state officials among them — were tried in federal court for allegedly being part of a corruption network in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz.
The vice president is accused of awarding almost 80% of the provincial public works projects to the business of a family friend, Lázaro Báez, during her and her husband Néstor Kirchner’s presidential administration, and illegally siphoning off state funds.
This was the first case of a serving vice president being tried for corruption in Argentina’s history. The verdict was delivered by judges Jorge Gorini, Rodrigo Giménez Uriburu and Andrés Basso.
Fernández de Kirchner, who was president of Argentina from 2007 to 2015, was expected by many to run for office again in next year’s general elections. However, in a speech following her conviction on Tuesday, she said “I will not run next year, let them put me in jail.”
In the speech responding to the verdict, that lasted more than an hour, the Vice President mentioned Héctor Magnetto, owner of multimedia company Grupo Clarín, who she accuses of being one of the main conspirators against her, along with some members of the judiciary and the opposition party, such as former president Mauricio Macri.
“I am not going to subject my political force to being mistreated by a doomed candidate. I am not going to be a candidate in 2023. But your pet, Magnetto, never. My name will not be on any ballot. I finish on the 10th of December and I will go back to my house.”
On September 1, during the height of her corruption trial, Fernández de Kirchner suffered an apparent assassination attempt. The case is still under investigation but her opponents have questioned the legitimacy of the attempt and its timing.