BUENOS AIRES – The Argentine Elections Court rejected on Tuesday the legal challenge brought against the senatorial candidacy of former President Carlos Menem, a move that will allow him to run in the Oct. 22 legislative elections, court sources reported.
The court determined that the time period within which a challenge to the candidacy could be brought had expired and that the Supreme Court on Aug. 22 had “clearly” ruled that the seven-year prison sentence for weapons smuggling to Ecuador and Croatia handed down against Menem, who governed from 1989-1999, was not valid.
The 87-year-old former president, whose current Senate term expires in December, is running for reelection to the upper house with the Peronist Justicialist Front from the northern province of La Rioja.
In the legislative primary elections on Aug. 14, Menem had garnered 45 percent of the votes, beating out the governing party’s candidate, Julio Martinez.
The high court on Aug. 22 questioned the Electoral Court’s earlier ruling, finding that it “contained serious legal defects that would make it impossible” to maintain the sentence against Menem.
The challenge to Menem’s candidacy was filed by attorney Leonel Ignacio Acosta, with the leftist Front for Socialism in La Rioja, and the Electoral Court supported that move.
The Supreme Court later found that the Electoral Court did not determine, among other things, whether the deadline for filing a challenge had passed, as Menem’s lawyers had claimed, and it ruled that the matter must be returned to that court for a new decision.
Menem was sentenced to seven years in prison for smuggling arms to Ecuador and Croatia during his term in office, but his status as a legislator shielded him from going to prison, although his defense team contends that the sentence is not final.