Former Mongolian President Pardoned After 2012 Graft Conviction

Former Mongolian president Nambaryn Enkhbayar, found guilty in August 2012 of graft and sentenced to four years in prison, was pardoned by the man who unseated him in a 2009 election.

Enkhbayar, 55, was released yesterday by a decree from current president Tsakhia Elbegdorj. The statement announcing the decision posted to the website of the president’s office didn’t give a reason for the pardon.

The former president, who also previously served as prime minister and parliamentary speaker, was the most high profile politician prosecuted in a corruption crackdown that Elbegdorj began after taking office. Throughout his trial and time in prison, Enkhbayar remained head of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party. He also maintained his innocence and argued the verdict against him was politically motivated.

“It is good news for us,” Ochirbat Chuluunbat, a member of the MPRP and the current deputy minister for economic development, said of the pardon. He said Enkhbayar was released because of poor health and so he could seek treatment overseas.

Enkhbayar, whose sentence was reduced to 2 1/2 years in December, went on a hunger strike while in jail and due to failing health was moved to a prison hospital. He’ll remain head of the MPRP if his health permits, Chuluunbat said.

After losing the 2009 presidential election to Elbegdorj by less than 4 percentage points, Enkhbayar was convicted on multiple counts of graft including the illegal privatization of a hotel. His party, which holds seven seats in Mongolia’s 76-seat parliament, is part of the coalition that forms the current government.

Elbegdorj won re-election in June after running a campaign that burnished his anti-corruption credentials. The victory cemented the Democratic Party’s hold on power, with Mongolia’s president, prime minister, parliamentary speaker and Ulaanbaatar’s mayor all drawn from its ranks.

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