Court clears former president of corruption

The 20-year jail term of former Nicaraguan president Arnoldo Aleman was revoked Friday by the country's Supreme Court amid speculation the move could help solve the country's ongoing political crisis. Aleman ruled Nicaragua from 1997 to 2002.


AFP - Nicaragua's top court on Friday revoked a 20-year prison sentence for corruption against former president Arnoldo Aleman amid rumours of a political deal to end the country's ongoing political crisis.

News reports said the stay of proceedings was part of a deal between the leftist government and the liberal opposition to end a crisis set off by disputed local elections last November.

The corruption case is dismissed "in respect of all the crimes he (Aleman) was sentenced for ... money-laundering, embezzlement of public funds, fraud, criminal association and electoral crime," said Supreme Court magistrate Sergio Cuarezma.

The move revokes the December 7, 2003 sentence against Aleman, Cuarezma said.

Nicaragua has been in political turmoil since the Supreme Electoral Council (SLC) said President Daniel Ortega's ruling Sandinista Party had won 105 of the 146 mayoral elections on November 9, which the opposition charged were riddled with fraud.

The United Nations, European Union and United States and several Nicaraguan NGOs have expressed concern about the level of transparency in the voting.

In an indication that there had been a political deal Friday, Congress prepared to open again after a two-month paralysis.

Aleman, known as El Gordo, or the Fat Man, for his large size and wealth,  ruled the nation from 1997 to 2002, and was accused of causing some 20 million dollars of damages to the state.

The case against him was part of an anti-corruption campaign by then president Enrique Bolanos.

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