I suspect that today, this achievement has been granted for the first time to Brazil, with the arresting of Michel Temer, and considering that Lula da Silva is still under arrest.

It is normally big news if a former president is incarcerated, so I'd be surprised to know this occurred twice somewhere else.

  • 10
    and Rio de Janeiro State has 5 former governors in jail, house arrest, or who just recently got out of prison. (Garotinho hubby & wife, Moreira Franco, Sergio Cabral, Luiz Pezão).
    – Luiz
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 19:40
  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this question does not seem to be relevant to history (or to any other science).
    – Alex
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 19:46
  • 5
    Illinois managed to do that with two former Governors.
    – LarsTech
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 21:33
  • 2
    @LarsTech At least 2. At one point, I seem to recall that they had 4 out of 5 consecutive Governors go to prison after leaving (or being expelled from) office.
    – reirab
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 22:14
  • @Alex It's literally a question about whether a thing has happened historically. Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 18:54

3 Answers 3


Quite a few candidates if:


... [sort by country] is anything to go by...

  • Andalusia (technically an autonomous community in Spain) appears to have two former presidents sitting in jail since 2016.

  • Argentina has a whopping 8 presidents that sat in jail, including 2 from 2007 onward.

  • Bangladesh had 5 presidents who went to jail, of which two were behind bars in 1975.

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina had 2 presidents sitting in jail from 2006 to 2012.

  • Bulgaria had as many as 3 former prime ministers behind bars at the same time in 1944.

  • Comoros has 3 presidents and prime ministers behind bars at the time of writing this.

  • Costa Rica had 2 presidents behind bars from 2004 to 2012.

I'll stop at C, since the list is long, with a few honorable mentions:

  • Egypt appears to have had 5 former presidents in jail in 2013.

  • Guatemala 3 early in 2018

  • Hungary 4 in 1945

  • Iraq 4 in 2004

  • Japan 5 in 1945

  • Libya 4 in 2011

  • Pakistan 4 + 2 arrest warrants as I write this

The point is Brazil is not an exception.

One caveat: read the list with a fistful of salt, because it lists former French President Sarkozy as sitting behind bars since 2018, whereas he was only put in police custody for a day that year as he was charged with bribery and illegal campaign contributions. (He might sit in jail some day in the future, but the point here is that you may want to double check the data.) Also, Gaston Flosse of French Polynesia is listed twice.

  • 35
    Take the list with lots of salt. Neither Arthur Más nor Carles Puigdemont have ever been imprisoned, and considering regional governments as "regimes" is to much of an stretch.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 21:40
  • 2
    The word "regime" has a lot of connotational baggage on it, but denotationally the word essentially just means "government." To the extent that use of the word "regime" is appropriate at all, it is quite reasonable to refer to regional governments as "regimes." Probably that Wikipedia article would be better off just changing the word "regime" to "government." Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 20:28
  • 1
    This list is clearly misleading. The case of Brazil is remarkable, because these are former presidents who are in prison, by the ordinary justice, and during a democratic period. Many in the list (all 8 from Argentina, for instance) are either former dictators or political prisoners. Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 2:22
  • @SJuan76 Unless you were trying to make a joke, it is Artur Mas (or Charles Picodelmonte, if that was your intention). ;)
    – Rekesoft
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 11:44

Peru has an interesting case of former presidents being incarcerated or in the eye of justice.

  • Alberto Fujimori in right now in prison, for human right violations, 25 years of conviction.
  • Ollanta Humala is in preventive reclusion, investigated for corruption.
  • Alejandro Toledo. In jail, waiting for his trial for money laundering. Case Oderbrecht (link in Spanish), that started in Brasil.
  • Alan García, twice president, twice investigated for corruption. He killed himself when he was going to be sent to preventive reclusion.
  • Pedro Castillo. Was detained for rebellion and conspiracy, he could not finish his term. In jail now, waiting his trial as well.

Summary, if you have been a Peruvian president, you are probably under investigation by the justice. Right now (may 2023), four former presidents are in jail (three of them in the same place), but only one with sentence.

  • 5
    The question asks about "jail", so "preventive reclusion" is quite close but not there. Then again, Peru might be a serious contender for the first triple.
    – Mefitico
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 19:28
  • 2
    Alejandro Toledo spent a night in a California jail in March 2019, so that would count I guess. apnews.com/d60d5e33803c4c959f03e0e47e711ee6
    – ajd
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 21:00
  • 8
    @Mefitico if you do not want to consider "preventive reclusion" then your reference to Brazil is a bit misleading since, from what I gather from the news, Temer is currently in preventive reclusion (so far he has not been condemned).
    – SJuan76
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 21:21
  • 2
    @Mefitico afaik "preventive reclusion" is the equivalent of what in the US is called jail. A term that in many countries is synonymous with prison. You're hanging on linguistic differences here. He's in jail awaiting trial, rather than after being tried.
    – jwenting
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 9:43
  • 2
    @jwenting: In Brazil "reclusion" normally refers to home arrest. We say something in the lines of "preventive imprisonment" when someone actually goes to jail before trial.
    – Mefitico
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 11:55

South Korea right now has their last two presidents, Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye in jail.

Then again, almost all ex-presidents of South Korea end up either on trial or committing suicide...

  • 1
    almost all ex-presidents of South Korea end up either on trial or committing suicide. is this true? I mean will this continue in future as well? If yes why? Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 3:09
  • @newguy, past events do not imply that they must repeat themselves in the future, and nobody has a time machine.
    – Cœur
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 16:03

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