A Buenos Aires Federal Court of Appeals Thursday ruled in favour of acquitting former Argentine President Carlos Saúl Menem in the case for arms trafficking to Ecuador and Croatia after 23 years of legal proceedings.
Menem had already been sentenced to seven years in prison by a lower court but that ruling is now reversed.
According to Justices Liliana Catucci, Carlos Mahiques and Eduardo Riggi, the reasonable time principle was not met to arrive at a final conviction and determine whether Menem and 10 others are guilty or innocent of the contraband of 6,500 tons of weapons.
The arms trade resulted in the explosion of the military factory in Rio Tercero in Córdoba on Nov 3, 1995 to cover up for the missing arms, which had been illegally sold to Ecuador and Croatia.
Last May, a Córdoba Federal Court of Appeals had ruled thatl Menem should be prosecuted in the case for the blasting of the Río TerceroFactory.
The decision opened the way for a new oral trial to be convened in Córdoba, which was complementary to the one carried out in 2014, and which would now have Menem as the sole defendant.
That ruling was signed by a majority, with the vote of judges Eduardo Avalos and Graciela Montesi. Justice Ignacio Vélez Funes cast a dissenting vote.
The BA court Thursday did not define whether Menem was guilty or not of having smuggled 6500 tons of weapons. It simply considered that the deadlines to reach a sentence were not met. The contraband file was initiated in 1995, when Menem was still president.
Currently, the former president is 88 years old and has parliamentary immunity from arrest as a Senator.