13 Sep 2018

El Salvador's ex-president jailed for ten years

12:59 pm on 13 September 2018

El Salvador's former president Antonio Saca has been sentenced by a tribunal to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to embezzlement and money laundering charges involving more than $US300 million of public funds.

Saca, 53, pleaded guilty to the charges last month. His lawyer said at the time that he had pleaded guilty in exchange for a reduction in his prison sentence.

During the trial, prosecutors said Saca had appropriated public funds for himself and others, including taking more than $US7 million for his former party, the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA).

Five years of the sentence were for money laundering, and five for embezzlement. He also has to give back $US260 million to the state.

The court also sentenced six other former officials from Saca's government to between three and 16 years for participating in a network of corruption.

Saca, who governed El Salvador between 2004 and 2009, was detained in October 2016 during his son's wedding.

Saca's successor as president, Mauricio Funes, has been in exile in Nicaragua since September 2016. He has been accused of using public funds to pay for trips, home remodelling and hospital bills.

Left-wing politician Funes, who governed El Salvador between 2009 and 2014, has said he is a victim of political attacks orchestrated by businessmen and conservatives.

- Reuters