El Salvador prosecutors request extradition of former president Funes

FILE PHOTO: Former president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes arrives at the attorney general office in San Salvador February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - El Salvador’s attorney general has asked a judge to approve a request for former President Mauricio Funes to be extradited home to face corruption charges, prosecutors said on Friday, days after his immediate predecessor was jailed for ten years.

Leftist Funes, who governed El Salvador between 2009 and 2014 and is currently in Nicaragua, is accused of embezzlement and money laundering involving $351 million, the prosecutors’ office said.

Earlier this week the attorney general’s office won a case against former President Antonio Saca, who pleaded guilty to similar charges.

Instead of opting for an internationally-backed anti-corruption body like the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), El Salvador has said that its own institutions are capable of bringing corrupt politicians to justice.

The prosecutors said they presented a request on Thursday to the San Salvador tribunal for the extradition of Funes, his partner and two of his sons.

They allege that Funes used public money to pay for credit cards, trips, home refurbishments, vehicles and hospital bills.

Funes said on Friday on Twitter that the request was just “a publicity stunt.” He has said he is a victim of political attacks orchestrated by businessmen and conservatives.

Funes, a 59-year old former journalist, has been in Nicaragua since September 2016. He governed under the banner of the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) party, which is still in power.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Christine Murray, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien