Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

As information unfold that former President Donald Trump had been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, making him the primary former U.S. President to be charged with against the law, his spokesperson, Liz Harrington likened the scenario to a “banana republic.” His son, Donald Trump Jr., declared the case “Communist-level sh*t. That is stuff that will make Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot blush.” The previous President is predicted to be arraigned on Tuesday.

However a authorities that’s accountable to the rule of legislation, and never topic to the whims of a king or a dictator, is taken into account one of many key tenets of democracy—and, many consultants say, it’s important for leaders to be held accountable like anybody else. The truth is, many nations which might be thought-about free and extremely purposeful democracies have prosecuted their leaders.

“Indicting Trump thus is crucial to ship a message to all: Nobody, not even a former president, is above the legislation,” mentioned Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of College of California Berkeley College of Regulation, in an interview with Berkeley Information.

Take, as an illustration, France. Ex-president Nicholas Sarkozy was convicted in 2014 of getting tried to bribe a decide by suggesting he’d commerce a job for details about a case. In 2021, he was sentenced to 3 years in jail (two of them are suspended), though he’s interesting the case. Earlier than him, former President Jacques Chirac was discovered responsible of corruption, and in 2011 was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence.

Learn Extra: Holding World Leaders Like Trump Accountable Is Democratic

In South Korea, two of its most up-to-date presidents, Presidents Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak, served time in jail for bribery, though each have been later pardoned.

And in some instances, the democratic course of isn’t even interrupted. In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu grew to become prime minister once more regardless of an ongoing felony corruption case, during which he faces prices of bribery, fraud and breach of belief.

Notably, not all instances have led to convictions. In Italy, as an illustration, former Premier Silvio Berlusconi was acquitted in a sequence of trials for varied prices, together with for having paid for intercourse with an underage lady and paying witnesses.

The checklist goes on: in Taiwan, Germany, Portugal, and throughout the globe, former leaders have confronted indictments, usually for corruption-related prices. As Robert Maguire Analysis Director at Residents for Accountability and Ethics wrote in a latest editorial for TIME a few of the nations which have prosecuted their leaders even have democracies that price larger on a scale of political rights and civil freedoms than the US. “Democracies younger and previous have held previous presidents and prime ministers accountable—and are available out as robust (or stronger) on the opposite aspect,” he mentioned.

Some consultants have additionally identified that historical past has proven the choice—avoiding the prosecution of a pacesetter who has dedicated against the law—is just not the higher choice for democracies. As Matthew Dallek, a professor at George Washington College’s School of Skilled Research, mentioned in a latest Washington Put up editorial, corruption in Mexico flourished after Mexico did not prosecute officers for corruption throughout the twentieth century.

Extra Should-Reads From TIME

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