It seems like former President Carlos Menem – or he-who-shall-not-be-named, if you will – will be able to begin his third term in the Senate, as the Supreme Court ratified yesterday its decision to let him run for office in the next mid term elections. And considering that Menem got more than 44 percent of the vote in August’s primaries in the La Rioja Province – 9 points more than the runner-up – we can safely say that unless he dies, he will get a seat in the Upper House on October 22. And with it, the parliamentary immunity that prevents him from going to prison.
The Supreme Court overturned a ruling by the Electoral Court, which had prevented Menem from running for office precisely due to the two criminal sentences against him: one for trafficking arms to Ecuador and Croatia between 1991 and 1993 – when he was President, yes – even though both nations had been forbidden from doing so, and another one for bribing government officials throughout both of his presidencies.
The Cambiemos representatives who went to court to prevent him from running focused mainly on the first sentence, but since it’s not firm – meaning that it hasn’t been confirmed in all possible judicial instances – he still hasn’t been effectively found guilty and therefore is not legally forbidden from being a candidate.
Menem has already been found guilty by the first instance criminal tribunal, a court of appeals and the Cassation court, but he appealed this decision to the Supreme Court, his last chance to be let off the hook. The highest court in the country received the case in August, and there is not a set date for its ruling to come out. But should it be equal to the other ones, those who consider Menem shouldn’t be a Senator would then be able to formally request to his peers in the Upper House he be stripped from his immunity and consequently removed from his post.
Should this be the case, Menem would then actually have to serve time in prison. But – there’s always a but – since he’s over 70 years old, he would get house arrest and probably purge his sentence in a massive house in his native province of La Rioja that he got with all the money he got from selling those arms illegally.