Argentina’s Menem Cleared of Arms Smuggling

Posted September 13th, 2011 at 6:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Former Argentine President Carlos Menem has been acquitted of charges he allegedly orchestrated the smuggling of arms to Croatia and Ecuador in the 1990's.

Mr. Menem and 17 others were cleared Tuesday following the trial, which lasted nearly three years. Had he been convicted, the 81-year-old former president could have faced at least eight years in prison for authorizing a shipment of weapons to those countries.

Mr. Menem has acknowledged signing three decrees between 1991 and 1995 to export weapons to Panama and Venezuela, but said he had no idea the arms would end up in Croatia and Ecuador.

At the time, there was a United Nations arms embargo on Croatia. Also, Ecuador was involved in a war with Peru, and Argentina was banned from selling weapons to either side because it was sponsoring a peace agreement.

Mr. Menem, who is currently a senator, was Argentina's president between 1989 and 1999.