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Ex-Argentine President Charged With Fraud

Former Argentine President Carlos Menem has been charged with fraud in connection with a contract awarded to a local subsidiary of a French defense company.

Mr. Menem's government awarded a concession to electronics firm Thales Spectrum in the 1990s to oversee the South American country's broadcast frequencies.  But the contract was canceled by Mr. Menem's successor, Nestor Kirchner, after allegations of irregularities surfaced.

A document released Monday by a federal judge accuses Mr. Menem of actions that undermined the interests of the state.  Prosecutors also are investigating whether officials in Mr. Menem's government received bribes from Thales Spectrum.

Menem's lawyer denounced the charges as politically motivated.

The 78-year-old former president, now a senator, is already on trial for allegedly being involved in the illegal sale of weapons to Ecuador and Croatia between 1991 and 1995.  He faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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