Ex-Argentine president in the dock

An Argentine court has charged former president Fernando de la Rua with misusing public funds, three years after a public outcry forced him to leave office early.

    An economic crisis cut short De la Rua's stay in office in 2001

    De la Rua, who ruled from 1999 to 2001, could face up to 10

    years in prison in part for putting a gardener on the

    government payroll to do extra landscaping.

    The court ordered on Wednesday that 220,000 pesos ($74,000) of the

    former leader's assets be frozen.

    "It has been proved that the services rendered were used

    not only to benefit his political party but also himself," the

    judicial order read.

    If he appeals the ruling, the case could go as high as the

    supreme court.

    De la Rua is infamous in Argentina for fleeing the

    presidential palace by helicopter when an economic crisis

    sparked social protests and looting in December 2001.

    Since then, he has rarely made public appearances.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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