Argentina: Menem faces trial for factory explosion

On Aug. 13 Argentine federal judge Carlos Ochoa reopened a criminal case charging former president Carlos Saúl Menem (1989-1999) with responsibility in the Nov. 3, 1995 explosion of a military arms factory in Río Tercero in the central province of Córdoba. Prosecutors and Río Tercero residents have long held that the daylong series of explosions was set off deliberately to destroy evidence that the Menem government was selling arms illegally to Ecuador and Croatia, but the case was shut down by federal judges in 2008. It has been reopened following Menem's conviction on March 8 this year of involvement in the arms smuggling. Seven people were killed in the explosions, which also left 300 people injured and destroyed a number of private homes. Even If convicted, the 83-year-old Menem will probably not face prison time; he currently enjoys immunity as a senator for La Rioja province. (Página 12, Argentina, Aug. 13; Clarín, Argentina, Aug. 14)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, August 18.