Judge orders Salvador ex-president to trial for corruption
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — A Salvadoran judge on Thursday ordered former President Francisco Flores to stand trial for allegedly diverting $15 million in donations for earthquake victims to his personal and political party accounts during his term from 1999 and 2004.
Flores is the first recent Salvadoran ex-president to be tried on corruption charges. Judge Miguel Angel Garcia said the proceedings will be open to the public.
The 56-year-old Flores has been under house arrest since November 2014 on charges of embezzlement and illegal enrichment involving funds Taiwan donated to support earthquake victims in 2001.
The former president has said he gave the money to the proper recipients, but there was no record in the treasury because it was a personal donation. He has not said who received the money. Prosecutors charge that some went to El Salvador’s main conservative party, the Republican National Alliance.
Flores also faces charges of disobedience for failing to report to an appointment with the special committee of the Legislative Assembly that was investigating what happened to the Taiwanese millions.
The Prosecutor General’s Office didn’t ask that Flores be jailed during the proceedings.
The investigation began with a U.S. Treasury Department suspicious activities report that was revealed by former President Mauricio Funes of the Farbundo Marti National Liberation Front. He left office in 2014.
Flores is the second former president in Central America to face corruption charges.
Guatemala’s Otto Perez Molina was forced to resign from office this year and has been jailed on fraud, conspiracy and bribery charges related to a customs scandal, in which businesses allegedly paid kickbacks to government officials in exchange for lower import duties.