Factbox-Prison cell or ankle bracelet? How countries incarcerate former leaders

(Reuters) - If the jury in Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial finds him guilty, the U.S. could face an unprecedented outcome: A prison sentence for a former president, who is one of the world's most divisive people.

That would force authorities to consider whether Trump, who is entitled to lifetime protection by the U.S. Secret Service, could serve time safely behind bars or whether alternate arrangements would have to be made.

It is a conundrum other countries have faced.


The South American country, beset by years of turmoil, has imprisoned so many presidents it has retrofitted a police academy to house them.

The facility on the outskirts of Lima currently holds two ex-presidents: Alejandro Toledo, who is awaiting trial on corruption charges, and Pedro Castillo, who is charged with rebellion after attempting to dissolve Congress in late 2022.

Another former president, Alberto Fujimori, was released in December 2023. He was pardoned after serving 16 years of a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses. He spent his time behind bars gardening and painting.

Ollanta Humala, another former president, served nine months in pre-trial detention on corruption charges before being released on condition he report regularly to a court.

According to local media, the special prison contains three apartment-like cells with outdoor terraces.

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, another former president, is not held there: he has been under house arrest since 2019 while being investigated on corruption charges.


The country's only female president, Park Geun-hye, appears to have received no special treatment after she was convicted of corruption in 2018.

Park served her time in a single cell at the Seoul Detention Center, where she was subject to the same rules and fed the same food as other inmates. She was allowed to watch television during the day, but only a single channel approved by authorities.

She served nearly five years of a 20-year sentence before she was pardoned in December 2021.

Park's predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, was also imprisoned on corruption charges. Two other presidents, Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, were convicted for treason and corruption in the 1990s.


Brazil's current leader, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, served more than one year in prison after he was sentenced for graft following his first 2003-2010 stint as president.

Allies say his time in a 15-square-meter (160-square-foot)cell on the third floor of the Federal Police headquarters in Curitiba imbued the leftist politician with a renewed sense of social justice.

He read books on race, slavery and hunger, he has said. Lula's 2018 conviction was overturned the following year, and he won re-election in 2022.

He defeated far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro, who is under investigation for allegedly plotting a coup after his loss.


Former president Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to prison in two separate cases, for campaign-finance violations and bribing a judge. Judges have ruled he can serve both sentences by wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet rather than going to prison.

Sarkozy, who served as president from 2007 to 2012, remains free while he appeals both cases to the nation's highest court.

His predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was given a two-year suspended sentence after being found guilty of corruption in 2011.

If Sarkozy's convictions are upheld, his incarceration would allow him to stay closer to home than another notable French leader.

After conquering much of Europe, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte suffered a string of military defeats and was exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba in 1814. He escaped less than a year later, took back control of France and was defeated at the battle of Waterloo.

This time, he was exiled to the South Atlantic island of Saint Helena, where he was guarded by 2,100 British soldiers and 10 ships until he died six years later.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Scott Malone and Daniel Wallis)