Former Presidents Who Have Been Convicted

August 09, 2018

Former South African president Jacob Zuma is finally seeing his day in court this year, and could go to jail for 16 charges of corruption, money laundering, and racketeering.

Zuma is not the first former president to face criminal charges and potential jail time. These are some former heads of state who later were convicted of crimes.

Arnoldo Aleman – President of Nicaragua 1997-2002

Aleman was constitutionally stopped from running for another presidential term in 2002, once his term was up, and he was formally charged with corruption in December of that year.

In December 2003, he was sentenced to 20-years in prison. Transparency International named him the ninth most corrupt leader in recent history.

Reynaldo Bignone – President of Argentina 1982-1983

Bignone came to power through a military dictatorship, and was forced to hold elections due to national protests and international power. Bignone was, at first in 1985, acquitted for his role in “the Dirty War” – a period of state terrorism in Argentina, in which more than 30 000 people were “disappeared”.

In 1999 the courts re-opened the trials, and Bignone was arrested in 2007. In 2010 he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his involvement in the kidnapping, torture and murder of 56 people, and in April 2011, he was sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity.

Vidkun Quisling – Prime Minister of Norway 1942-1945

Quisling nominally headed the government of Norway – jointly with the German civilian administrator Josef Terboven – during the occupation of the country by Nazi Germany during World War II.

His pro-Nazi puppet government participated in Germany’s genocide, and Quisling was put on trial after the war. He was found guilty of charges including embezzlement, murder and high treason against the Norwegian state, and was sentenced to death. The word “quisling” became a word meaning “collaborator” or “traitor” in several languages afterwards.