El Salvador: No Interpol red notice for ex-President Funes

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — Interpol has notified El Salvador that it will not issue a red notice for the capture of fugitive ex-President Mauricio Funes and three family members who were granted asylum in Nicaragua, authorities said Monday.

Howard Cotto, chief of El Salvador’s National Civil Police, said in an interview with Salvadoran television that the international police agency’s decision is due to the fact that they have political asylum status.

Funes, 58; his partner, Ada Mitchell Guzman Siguenza; and sons Diego Roberto and Carlos Mauricio Funes have been in Nicaragua since 2016. They and 14 others are suspected of involvement in a corruption network that allegedly embezzled $351 million in public funds.

The former president has denied wrongdoing and says he is the target of political persecution.

In late June a judge issued a national and international arrest warrant for Funes and his family. Salvadoran authorities are also processing an extradition request, though it is doubtful Nicaragua would renege on its decision to grant them asylum.

Cotto explained that Interpol protocol is not to issue red notices in political, religious and some other cases, so Funes and his relatives would not have difficulties traveling to countries besides Nicaragua.

Prosecutors allege that Funes, who was president from 2009 to 2014, spent $4.5 million on leisure trips and also paid plane tickets for his family.

Guzman is alleged to have used some of the purportedly embezzled money for cosmetic surgeries in California.