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Former Argentina president charged over 2001 riot deaths

[JURIST] Argentinean federal judge Claudio Bonadio Tuesday charged former president Fernando de la Rua [BBC profile] with five counts of manslaughter for failing to prevent the deaths of five demonstrators during 2001 confrontations with police in Buenos Aires. The deaths came during riots sparked by a national economic crisis [BBC report] that caused De la Rua to flee the presidential residence and eventually resign his office just two years into his term. The court has frozen $6.2 million of De la Rua's assets in response to the charges. De la Rua could face up to ten years in prison, although that may be reduced to house arrest due to his advanced age.

De la Rua's former security chief and seven former police officers have already been charged in connection with the riots. While De la Rua would be the first democratically elected Argentinean leader to face charges based on conduct while in office, military dictator and former president Reynaldo Bignone [Wikipedia profile] will soon stand trial [JURIST report] for the kidnapping of children of dissidents killed during Argentina's 1976-83 "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Bignone was the last of a series of military dictators to hold ofice in Argentina after 1976 before democracy was re-established in 1983. BBC News has more. Mercopress has additional coverage.

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