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Trump and 5 Other Leaders Convicted or Jailed for Crimes

Find out more about Trump’s case and some other convicted leaders around the world

A new and unprecedented chapter in American history is about to begin as a New York jury found Donald Trump, the former US president, guilty on 34 felony counts all related to falsifying business records.

We can say that this might be the end of weeks of intense legal proceedings, but it also opens up a door for new uncertainties. This conviction gives Trump a unique status, making him the first former president to be found guilty of felonies.

The charges stem from Trump’s role in a hush money payment scheme he was involved in before the 2016 presidential election.

This verdict is leading to Trump’s sentencing, and it’s scheduled for July 11. No one knows what will happen, but he could potentially face imprisonment or probation for his crimes.

But even if he is the first former president of America to appear in court for criminal charges, Donald Trump is just one of the many convicted leaders in this world. This is why we want to present you with some other former leaders who had a seat in the defendant’s chair.

José Sócrates

José Sócrates is one of these convicted leaders who used to serve as the Prime Minister of Portugal between 2005 and 2011, and many recognize him as an important figure in Portuguese politics. All was well until 2014 when he was arrested and accused of being a part of “Operation Marquês.”

Corruption, money laundering, and tax fraud were the charges, and this is how the legal battle began. Allegations say that José Sócrates took part in illegal activities during and after his tenure as prime minister.

Operation Marquês is one of Portugal’s most complex corruption investigations, and it involved many high-profile figures and also world-known companies. What Sócrates was accused of is that he received bribes of millions of euros by taking advantage of offshore accounts and also by participating in money laundering schemes.

In 2021, the corruption charges were dismissed by Judge Ivo Rosa, who stated that there was not enough evidence to support them. The necessary legal standards were not met, and Sócrates was accused of lesser charges, such as money laundering and document forgery.

convicted leaders
Photo by Alessia Pierdomenico from Shutterstock

Silvio Berlusconi

Another prime minister, another one of the convicted leaders. Silvio Berlusconi is one of the most successful prime ministers, as he served in this function for Italy for four separate terms, the last one being from 2008 to 2011.

What is fascinating about Berlusconi is that he had a tumultuous political career because, since he entered politics, he faced over 30 criminal court cases! This is a record even for many other convicted leaders, and the charges range from tax fraud and bribery to some more personal allegations.

There were three separate bribery trials: in 2021, 2022, and 2023. All of them were related to allegations of bribing witnesses to silence them or change their testimonies. These numerous legal troubles, all related to Silvio Berlusconi, made his defense teams argue that he was the target of politically motivated prosecutions.

In 2013, Berlusconi was also accused of tax fraud, which was related to his media company, Mediaset. He was sentenced to four years in prison, but due to his age, the sentence was reduced to one year of community service.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

Before she became one of the convicted leaders, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was the First Lady of Argentina, and later she succeeded her husband and became the President of Argentina from 2007 to 2015. In 2019, she was elected as the Vice President of Argentina.

So it is easy to see that we are talking about a notorious figure in Argentina’s political world. But what made Cristina Fernández de Kirchner one of the convicted leaders that are today on this list?

This is the most significant case involving the former president of Argentina, and we are talking about the Lázaro Báez Case. The allegations say that Fernández fraudulently awarded public works contracts to a family friend named Lázaro Báez at the time she was president. The contracts were overpriced, and the quality of work was not meeting the standards.

But the most recent is the 2022 conviction. During the month of December 2022, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was accused of fraudulent administration related to the above-mentioned working contracts. After she was found guilty, the judge sentenced her to six years in prison and a life ban from holding political office.

Benjamin Netanyahu

He is the current prime minister of Israel and is currently serving his sixth term. Unfortunately, he is also one of the convicted leaders, and he has been involved in numerous legal battles, which have been a central point in Israeli politics.

Benjamin Netanyahu was involved in three big cases of bribery, publicly known by their case numbers: Case 1000 (Gifts Case), Case 2000 (Yedioth Ahronoth Case), and Case 4000 (Bezeq-Walla! Case).

Case 4000 is probably the most serious one, and allegations say that Netanyahu used his power as the Communications Minister to offer hundreds of millions of dollars to Shaul Elovitch, the main shareholder of Israel’s largest telecommunications company. In exchange, the prime minister revived positive coverage from a news site owned by Elovitch known as “Walla!”

Right now, the defense team argues that the actions of Benjamin Netanyahu were misinterpreted, and they present all of them as standard political practice rather than criminal behavior.

convicted leaders
Photo by 360b from Shutterstock

Nicolas Sarkozy

In 2021, he became one of the convicted leaders and the second convicted former French president. Sarkozy was the President of France from 2007 to 2012, and in 2021 he was accused of corruption and influence peddling.

He promised a judge named Judge Gilbert Azibert a job in Monaco in exchange for confidential information regarding the Bettencourt affair. The entire case was mainly based on the wiretapped conversations between Sarkozy and Thierry Herzog, his lawyer.

On March 1, 2021, the former president of France was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison. Of these three years, two were suspended. So he served only one year and was allowed to serve his sentence at home using an electronic bracelet. The decisions were made based on the non-violent nature of the crime and his status as a former president.

Can Trump still be elected president?

Getting back to Trump’s case, this is a question that many ask. First of all, his lawyer, Todd Blanche, did everything that was possible and also asked the judge to overturn the verdict. The judge refused, but Trump’s legal team is still trying to appeal the decision.

However, Donald Trump can still be elected president. At this point, the US Constitution is not preventing a convicted criminal from running for president. The Constitution only requires that any potential candidate be at least 35 years old, a natural-born citizen, and a resident of the US for at least 14 years.

These are some of the most famous convicted leaders, and their cases are powerful reminders that no one is above the law. Also, the integrity of the institutions these people used to lead is now the subject of numerous discussions about their integrity.

High-profile cases like these are a warning that every country should take steps to strengthen the rule of law. As a result, public trust in governance will be restored, and this is a great factor that promotes the strength of a country.

If you want to learn more about Donald Trump and his political life this book can be a good start: Trump – The Biography: From Businessman to 45th President of the United States

You should also read: Biden Passes 200th Judicial Confirmation Milestone as Election Looms

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