Salvador ex-president Saca to face trial for embezzlement

San Salvador (AFP) –


A Salvadoran judge has decided to send former president Elias Antonio Saca and six ex-administration officials to trial over charges of embezzling $301 million in public funds, prosecutors said.

Saca, 53, was arrested in October 2016 with his former private secretary and former communications secretary, among others. They are charged with embezzlement, criminal association and money laundering.

Saca faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted, according to prosecutor Mario Huezo.

The former conservative leader governed poverty stricken and gang violence-plagued El Salvador from 2004 to 2009. He was expelled from his Nationalist Republican Alliance party in 2009, accused of facilitating a historic presidential election victory for left-wing Mauricio Funes.

Funes, the first left-wing president in two decades, governed until 2014. He now lives in exile in Nicaragua, having obtained political asylum in 2016 after saying he feared for his life in El Salvador, where he was convicted of corruption last year.