Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who has denied the allegations, is expected to appeal the decision and is not expected to begin her prison sentence until after she finishes her term as vice president due to governmental immunity.
Prosecutors alleged that public works contracts were awarded to an ally of Fernandez de Kirchner during her tenure as president of Argentina from 2007 to 2015. The ally, Lazaro Baez, then illegally channeled money to Fernandez de Kirchner and her late husband, Nestor Kirchner, another former president.
Three judges from a federal court in Buenos Aires said Fernandez de Kirchner was the “criminally responsible author of the crime of fraudulent administration to the detriment of the public administration,” according to Reuters. She was acquitted on one count of “illicit association.”
Eight of the vice president’s allies were also found guilty on Tuesday and sentenced to between three and six and a half years in prison. Baez was sentenced to six years in prison.
“It is clear that the idea was always to condemn me,” Fernandez de Kirchner said. “This is a parallel state and judicial mafia.”
The ruling comes months after Fernandez de Kirchner survived an assassination attempt. A man pulled the trigger of a gun aimed at the vice president’s head outside of her home in September. However, the gun failed to fire and the vice president was unharmed.
The appeal process for Tuesday’s ruling is expected to take years, according to lawyers, and removing Fernandez de Kirchner from office would require a political trial. However, the next presidential election is set for next year, and Fernandez de Kirchner has been barred from holding public office.