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Nicaragua high court overturns corruption conviction of ex-president

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Nicaragua [official website, in Spanish] on Friday overturned the corruption conviction of former president Arnoldo Aleman. Aleman was convicted of money laundering and embezzlement in 2003, after being accused of taking up to $100 million from the Nicaraguan government. He had been sentenced to 20 years in prison, but had served only four years, with much of the time spent under house arrest. The four Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Aleman's conviction have ties to his political party [AP report]. The Supreme Court's decision to overturn the conviction of Aleman, who is still active in Nicaraguan politics, is believed to be a part of the ongoing power struggle [La Prensa report, in Spanish] in Nicaragua between Aleman's right-wing Liberal Constitutional Party and the Sandinista government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega [official website, in Spanish].

In August 2005, the Supreme Court relaxed Aleman's prison sentence [JURIST report], allowing him to leave his home and travel around the Nicaraguan capital of Managua based on his health needs. Aleman's 20-year sentence [BBC report] had been altered once before due to ongoing health concerns. In 2004, Aleman was allowed to leave his jail cell to serve his sentence at his plantation outside the capital city. Then-president Enrique Bolanos, who himself faced election fraud charges, said that the change in Aleman's sentence was engineered by Aleman's allies on the court.

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