Former president of Argentina Carlos Menem was sentenced to seven years in prison on 13th June for his role in illegal arms trading to Ecuador and Croatia during his time in office from 1989 to 1999. He is the first democratically-elected president to be convicted by the Argentine courts. Former defence minister Oscar Camilión also received five and a half years in prison.
What do the people of Argentina feel about these recent developments, especially after Menem and 17 other defendants were acquitted in 2011? What do they think about his imminent appeal, and should he have received a longer sentence?
We went to the busy streets of Caballito to pose these questions to locals, and ask them if they feel justice has been served.
Jorge Alejandro Silva, lawyer, 53, Caballito
Menem is a liar and a thief like every other leader in Europe and the US. The traitor deserves a longer jail sentence and the trial dragged on for far too long. Although it is a step in the right direction there are still corrupt politicians working in our government. Menem should never have been acquitted in the first place, the man is a murderer and he belongs behind bars.
Rodrigo Jose Meziz, bank worker, 28, Almagro
I don’t really care about Menem. If he was guilty of smuggling arms then he deserves to go to jail. The government has a history of being corrupt so it is hard to know what really happened.
Cecilia Ivana Carrasco, Spanish teacher, 27, Caballito
Menem left us in ruins. He stole a lot of money without thinking about the people of Argentina. The country is a better place with him in jail but when politicians are locked up you never know if they are going to be released on appeal a couple of months later. I just hope he stays in prison.
Sergio Ballerini, actor, 32, Almagro
It has taken so long to punish him for acts he committed during the ’90s. First he was acquitted and now he has been given a sentence that he will surely appeal. If he is acquitted again then the public will begin to doubt the integrity of the country’s justice system.
Ashley Valle, environmental advisor, 27, Almagro
Hopefully it sends out a message that corrupt politicians will not be able to get away with illegal dealings. Menem is just one of many who have been punished, corruption is hard to wipe out completely because it runs so deep but at least the court recognises he is a criminal.