May 16, 2018 / 9:51 PM / 8 days ago

El Salvador court to try former president for money laundering

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - A former president of El Salvador will go on trial on charges of embezzlement and money laundering involving more than $300 million, a tribunal in the Central American nation decided on Wednesday.

El Salvador's former president Elias Antonio Saca waits for his hearing on corruption charges in Santa Salvador, El Salvador, May 16, 2018. REUTERS /Jose Cabezas

A San Salvador judge said Antonio Saca, who was president from 2004 to 2009, and six other former high-level public officials would face trial for the charges that could see them imprisoned for up to 25 years.

Saca and the other defendants are accused of diverting funds from the treasury to personal bank accounts to benefit individuals, companies connected to the former president and advertising for his Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party.

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Saca, 53, says he is innocent, and his lawyer, Mario Machado, said they were studying the tribunal’s decision. Saca was detained in October 2016 during one of his son’s weddings.

The judge will keep Saca and the other accused people detained, said a prosecutor, who asked not to be identified because of safety concerns.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Peter Cooney

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