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Peronists Leap to Menem’s Defense

April 26, 2001

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _The opposition Peronist party rallied behind former President Carlos Menem on Thursday amid demands that a judge question him about illegal arms sales in the 1990s.

Menem, who served two five-year terms ending in December 1999, has denied any involvement in banned arms sales, saying he is the victim of ``political persecution.″

On Tuesday, federal prosecutor Carlos Stornelli asked the judge investigating arms sales to Croatia in 1991 and to Ecuador in 1995, to summons Menem for questioning. Argentina has signed international agreements banning such sales.

In Congress, Peronists from almost all sides of the faction-ridden party signed a document expressing ``solidarity″ with the party’s former standard bearer and singing the Peronist anthem in a show of support broadcast on national television.

Former Menem aide Jorge Yoma was indicted in the case April 7 and is in jail awaiting trial.

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