Argentine Court Finds Ex-President Menem Guilty on Arms Charges

Former Argentine President Carlos Menem and his Defense Minister Oscar Camilion were found guilty by a Buenos Aires court of helping smuggle weapons to Ecuador and Croatia during the 1990s.

Menem, who ruled Argentina from 1989 to 1999, is currently a senator in Congress and has immunity. The ruling revokes a 2011 court decision to dismiss the case, state-run news agency Telam reported. The crime is punishable by prison terms of 10 to 15 years, C5N television reported. Another tribunal will establish Menem’s sentence.

In 2001, the Supreme Court cleared him of charges he organized illegal sales of 6,500 tons of arms and released him from house arrest in Buenos Aires. His former Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo spent nine weeks in prison in 2002 related to the weapons smuggling case.

Menem, 82, established a 1-to-1 peg of the Argentine peso to the U.S. dollar in 1991 that was abandoned in 2002 after South America’s second-largest economy defaulted on a record $95 billion of debt. A lawyer by profession, Menem supported President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s decision to seize oil producer YPF SA from Repsol SA last year after authorizing its sale to the Spanish energy producer in 1999.

Argentine troops were part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the former Yugoslavia, and Buenos Aires was a guarantor of the peace process for a border conflict between Ecuador and Peru.

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