An icon: Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
Photo: LUIS ROBAYO / AFP
Argentina's Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has been sentenced to six years in prison in a corruption trial.
The court found the 69-year-old guilty of misappropriation of public funds.
The judges also banned her from holding public office for life.
The ex-president, who was in office from 2007 to 2015, can still appeal against the first-instance verdict.
It could therefore be years before a final judgment is reached.
According to the indictment, Kirchner and her late husband, ex-President Néstor Kirchner (from 2003 to 2007), are said to have procured public contracts for a friendly contractor without a tender.
According to the public prosecutor's office, his company received 80 percent of all public road construction contracts in Kirchner's home region of Santa Cruz.
Part of the excessive construction costs later flowed back to the couple.
As the leader of a criminal organization, the current vice president stole around a billion US dollars from the state.
The allegations relate to the Kirchners' tenure at the head of state.
Kirchner rejected the allegations and accused the judiciary of investigating them for political reasons.
That was "a real firing squad," she said in her closing words in the process.
The left-wing Argentine government described the investigations against Kirchner as "lawfare," as war with legal means.
President Alberto Fernández supported his vice several times.
"When politics takes hold in the courts, justice flees through the windows," he recently wrote on Twitter.
Guarantor for social programs
Kirchner represents the left wing of the current governing coalition and is seen as the real power puller in Buenos Aires.
Again and again she imposes her will on the government.
Her followers, who often come from humble backgrounds, see Kirchner as the guarantor of lavish social programs.
The charismatic politician dominates the streets through social movements, trade unions and party groups such as the youth organization La Cámpora, which is loyal to her.
After prosecutors had called for Kirchner to be jailed for 12 years, hundreds of her supporters camped for days in front of her apartment in the elegant Recoleta district at the end of August.
On September 1, she escaped an attempted attack when a man pointed a gun at her from close range, but it jammed.