20-YEAR SENTENCE FOR EX-PRESIDENT.
Former President Arnoldo Aleman, who returned from exile imposed by
the leftist Sandinistas to rebuild Nicaragua's ruling party, was
convicted on corruption charges and sentenced to 20 years'
imprisonment and fined US$10 million, reports AP (Dec. 9, 2003). The
sentence could put to an end the former president's grip over the
ruling Constitutionalist Liberal Party, where Aleman's authority
has endured despite charges he illegally diverted some US$100 million in
government funds to his party's election campaigns while in the
presidential office. Judge Juana Mendez cited the crimes of fraud,
misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement, criminal association and
electoral violations endangering the state in her sentencing of Aleman,
who was president from 1997 to January last year. It is the first time a
former president has been convicted in Nicaragua. Aleman, 57, has been
diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension and heart problems and is likely
to serve his sentence at his ranch 28km south of Managua. The
penitentiary system will establish the conditions of his confinement in
coordination with police.