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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 September 2007, 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK
Menem charged with weapons sales
By Daniel Schweimler
BBC News, Buenos Aires

Carlos Menem pictured in La Rioja, Argentina (file photo)
Mr Menem failed in a recent attempt to become a state governor
Argentina's former President Carlos Menem has been charged with involvement in the illegal sale of weapons to Croatia and Ecuador during the 1990s.

His passport has been withdrawn and assets worth $120m (60m) frozen to pay for any fine resulting from the case.

Mr Menem faced similar charges six years ago, but was allowed to walk free by a panel of judges mostly appointed during his 1989-1999 presidency.

The former president, 77, has denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Menem is accused of involvement in selling 6,500 tonnes of rifles, cannons, anti-tank rockets and ammunition to Ecuador and Croatia between 1991 and 1995.

At the time Ecuador was involved in a conflict with neighbouring Peru, while Croatia was a key player in the violent break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

Those involved in the transactions are accused of falsely stating that the shipments were going to Panama and Venezuela.

The judge bringing the charges said much of the $37m earned from the illegal transactions were spent in bribes.

Mr Menem had said he would stand again for president next month but he suffered a crushing defeat in recent elections for governor in his home province of La Rioja and is viewed with disdain by many Argentines.

His 10 years in office are remembered for a string of alleged and proven corruption scandals.

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