Q24N (EFE) Former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, who a judge in his country has ordered to keep in pretrial detention for 36 months for his failed self-coup in December 2022, while being investigated for a corruption case, joins a list of leaders and Latin American ex-presidents convicted or who have gone to prison for different crimes.
The numerous list includes presidents such as the Panamanian Luis Eduardo Noriega, the Argentine Carlos Ménem, the Peruvian Alberto Fujimori, the Venezuelan Carlos Andrés Pérez or the Brazilian Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
PERU, THE COUNTRY WITH THE MOST FORMER PRESIDENTS IN PRISON
Peru is the country with the highest number of former presidents tried and convicted. Alberto Fujimori, who led the country from 1990 to 2000, was extradited by Chile in September 2007. He was imprisoned and sentenced to 6 years in 2007 and another three in 2009, the oldest serving 25 years as an author mediate of the crimes of Barrios Altos and La Cantuta and the kidnappings of the journalist Gustavo Gorriti and the businessman Samuel Dyer.
The investigation into the bribes that the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht paid to various Latin American presidents brought two former Peruvian presidents to justice. Ollanta Humala (2011-2016) and his successor Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016-2018).
Ollanta Humala was detained together with his wife, Nadine Heredia, in a preventive manner in 2017 for that scandal. Kuczynski was sentenced to 3 years in pretrial detention for his involvement in the Odebrecht case in April 2019.
In addition, Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), currently in the United States, a country that has approved his extradition, is also accused of allegedly receiving bribes from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
Alan García, who presided over the country on two occasions (1985-1990 and 2006-2011), took his own life on April 7, 2019 when he was going to be arrested in the framework of the Oderbrecht case.
THE CONDEMNED IN CENTRAL AMERICA
Central America is the region with the most convicted. Nine presidents from El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras and Nicaragua have sat in the dock and heard verdicts against it.
Alfonso Portillo (2000-2004), imprisoned in the United States, Álvaro Colom (2008-2012) arrested and imprisoned in 2018 for his alleged relationship with the fraud and embezzlement case, and Otto Pérez Molina (2012-2015), sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2022 for illicit association and customs fraud, are the presidents of Guatemala tried and convicted.
Salvadorans Francisco Flores (1999-2004) passed from the presidency to the courts, who was transferred to a police prison in 2014 and later to house arrest on November 24, accused of embezzlement and illicit enrichment; and Antonio Saca (2004-09), sent to prison in January 2017 for his relationship with a case of embezzlement, illegal groups and money laundering and embezzlement of the public budget.
In Panama, Manuel Antonio Noriega, a soldier and “strong man” between 1983 and 1989, died in prison in 2017 when he was serving prison, after being imprisoned for 17 years in the US and then in France.
The other Panamanian president who went to jail was Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014). He was detained in the US, he was extradited to Panama in 2017 and entered prison. He was acquitted in 2019 and is now awaiting trials for the “media” and Odebrecht cases.
The list of former Central American presidents is completed by the Honduran Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado (2014-2022), extradited in April 2022 to the US to face charges of bribery from drug traffickers for electoral fraud; and Arnaldo Alemán, who presided over Nicaragua between 1997 and 2002, and in December 2003 was sentenced to 20 years in prison for money laundering and other crimes.
CONVICTED IN SOUTH AMERICA
Two Ecuadorian ex-presidents have been tried and sentenced. Abdalá Bucaram and Rafael Correa. The first, was president between 1996 and 1997, the year in which he was dismissed by Parliament for mental incapacity. Prosecuted for corruption, defamation and fraud to the State, in 1998 he was sentenced to four years in prison for slanderous insults to two rival politicians.
For his part, Rafael Correa (2007-2017) was sentenced in April 2020 to eight years in prison and political disqualification for a crime of bribery in the “Bribes 2012-2016” case.
In Venezuela Carlos Andrés Pérez (1974-1979 and 1989-1993) entered prison in 1994 and was sentenced to 2 years and 4 months for “generic embezzlement.”
The historic Lula da Silva, Brazilian president three times, was sentenced to two terms of 9 and 12 years for corruption crimes related to the Petrobras oil company in 2017 and 2019. He was acquitted in 2021 after two years in prison.
Another prominent name in trouble with the law is Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010). In August 2020, the Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia ordered his house arrest within a process that is being followed for alleged procedural fraud and witness bribery.
Jeanine Áñez, former interim president of Bolivia in 2019, was arrested in March 2021 accused of sedition and terrorism in relation to the incidents that in November 2019 ended with the departure of Evo Morales from the presidency and he entered a prison in La Paz.
Finally, in Argentina, former President Carlos Ménem (1989-1999) was prosecuted in 2001 as an alleged leader and subjected to house arrest for 5 months. In 2013 he was sentenced to 7 years for arms smuggling to Ecuador and Croatia.
Cristina Fernández, former Argentine president in two terms (2007-2015) and currently vice president of the country, was sentenced on December 6, 2022 to six years in prison and permanently disqualified for irregularities in the concession of road works during the Kirchner governments (2003-2015).