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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 June 2006, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Former Paraguay president jailed
Former Paraguayan President Luis Gonzalez Macchi (left)
Gonzalez Macchi (left) was installed by Congress after rioting
Paraguay's former President Luis Gonzalez Macchi has been sentenced to six years in prison for involvement in illegal bank transfers.

Judges told the former leader - in a nationally televised hearing - that his actions had led to thousands of account holders losing their savings.

He was convicted of involvement in the illegal transfer of $16m (8.5m).

Mr Gonzalez Macchi, who was president from 1999 to 2003, denied the charges and said he would appeal.

"I was in no way involved in the crime they have accused me of," he said after he was convicted on Monday.

However, the sentencing panel ordered that he be incarcerated in the country's biggest prison, Tacumbu, and he was led away by police.

Prosecutors had asked the courts to sentence the former president to 10 years in prison.

Officials jailed

The case centred on funds sent from Paraguay's central bank to the United States in 2000.

The money originally came from two private commercial banks that collapsed between 1994 and 1998, prosecutors said, and was transferred to the US by a foreign bank.

Four former central bank officials were jailed in 2004 for up to eight years for their roles.

Prosecutors said that while transfer was done properly, the funds were sent abroad in violation of a local law.

Mr Gonzalez Macchi said the four bank officials were the "true guilty ones" in the case.

The former president was installed by Congress in 1999 after rioting that followed the assassination of Vice-President Luis Argana.

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