By John Ikani
An Argentine court sentenced Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to six years in jail and disqualified her from holding public office in a high-profile corruption case on Tuesday.
A three-judge panel found the Peronist leader guilty of fraud, specifically for embezzling $1billion US dollars through public works projects during her presidency.
The sentence could have been 12 years in prison if the panel had not dismissed a charge of running a criminal organization levelled against the powerful Vice President.
Fernandez who has temporary immunity due to her current role, will not face immediate prison time and is expected to appeal the sentence, with the case likely to spend years winding through higher courts.
Technically, she could run for office while the appeals are pending, but she said on Tuesday that she “would not be a candidate for anything” in next year’s general election.
Ms Fernandez de Kirchner served as president for two terms between 2007 and 2015 and commands crowds of supporters.
Thousands gathered in the streets after she survived an assassination attempt this year – and huge crowds also formed outside the courtroom where she was being sentenced on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, other cases remain pending against her, including a charge of money-laundering that also involves her son and daughter.
While the litigations rage on, Argentina is on edge after a long economic crisis, with inflation heading towards 100%.