BUENOS AIRES – The Argentine electoral court barred on Monday former President Carlos Menem from running for reelection to the Senate in the primary elections being held next Sunday, judicial sources told EFE.
The decision was adopted by the National Electoral Chamber and signifies that Menem, with a seat in the upper house until next December, cannot seek reelection in the legislative elections this year.
Menem, 87, was a Senate candidate for the Peronist Frente Justicialista party for the northern province of La Rioja, his native territory.
He had been sentenced to seven years in prison for smuggling arms to Ecuador and Croatia, but his status as senator kept him out of jail.
The case against another Menem candidacy was filed by attorney Leonel Ignacio Acosta.
A lower court had accepted Menem’s candidacy, but Acosta appealed that decision before the National Electoral Chamber.
The prosecutor before the National Electoral Chamber, Jorge Di Lello, had called for the appeal to be tossed out and asked that Menem’s candidacy be accepted since, among other arguments, the time for presenting a legal challenge had expired.
In the sentence handed down Monday, the National Electoral Chamber took as a precedent a 2003 ruling which rejected the candidacy for the Senate of Raul Romero Ferris after being found guilty of crimes of corruption, though the sentences against him had not been applied.
The chamber also recalled that there are “suitability requirements” for taking public office, such as “no criminal record” and “the higher the office, the greater the degree of morality required to exercise it.”
With regard to Menem’s sentence never being enacted as argued by the former president’s defense attorney, the chamber insisted that “such court decisions enjoy the presumption of certainty and legitimacy in virtue of having been tried by a competent court according to the law and with all the guarantees of due process.”
In the case of arms smuggling, Menem was not only sentenced to seven years in prison, but was banned from holding public office for 14 years.