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Ex-Bolivian president to appeal defamation sentencing, attorney says

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A judge sentenced Jorge Quiroga to two years and eight months in prison
  • The former president said a local bank was used for money-laundering
  • The bank filed a legal complaint and Quiroga was found guilty of defamation

(CNN) -- Former Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga will appeal his prison sentence of nearly three years for defaming a bank, his attorney said Sunday.

Judge Rene Delgado sentenced Quiroga on Saturday after the former leader was found guilty of defaming the Banco Union in statements he made in February 2009, nearly seven years after leaving office. The former president, who ruled from August 2001 to August 2002, said the Banco Union was "a money-launderer for resources obtained in a bad way, for Venezuelan resources and for resources from corruption," the state-run Agencia Boliviana de Informacion said.

Quiroga's attorney, Ivan Aleman, said the sentencing was unexpected.

"We were surprised yesterday by an aberrant ruling that my client would be denied his liberty for two years and eight months," Aleman said Sunday.

At the time of Quiroga's comments, the Bolivian Public Ministry was investigating Banco Union in connection with $450,000 in a trust fund handled by businessman Jorge O'Connor D'Arlach, who had been shot to death in January 2009, the state news agency said.

The bank filed a legal complaint against the former president after his comments, which were carried extensively by local media.

Quiroga, 50, received a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Texas A&M University in 1981 and holds a master's degree in business administration from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas.

He served as Bolivia's vice president from 1997 to 2001, when he assumed the top spot after President Hugo Banzer resigned due to health problems.

Quiroga ran for president in 2005 but was soundly defeated by current President Evo Morales.