SAN SALVADOR – Former Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca, who governed from 2004-2009, on Tuesday was charged with embezzlement, conspiracy and money laundering, crimes allegedly committed in diverting 222 million euros ($245 million) from the public coffers to private accounts during his tenure in office.
Saca, who has been held in police custody since Sunday morning, on Tuesday was transferred to the Isidro Menendez Judicial Center in the capital under heavy security.
The court must now decide if the former leader will be deemed prosecutable or exempt from prosecution.
If he moves to the next judicial phase, the court will have to establish whether the former president, with the ARENA party, will be released pending trial or whether he will be kept under house arrest or in preventive custody.
Also charged with Saca were his former private secretary Elmer Charlaix, along with his erstwhile communications and youth ministers, Julio Rank and Cesar Funes, respectively.
In addition, several of Saca’s close collaborators – Pablo Gomez, Francisco Rodriguez Arteaga and Jorge Alberto Herrera – were also arrested on the weekend. They are all still employed by the ex-president.
According to Attorney General Douglas Melendez, these people operated a network within the President’s Office that moved the embezzled funds to 14 personal bank accounts belonging to Charlaix, Rodriguez and Gomez, from which 104 million euros was later withdrawn “in cash.”
The AG also said at a Monday press conference that the investigation into the matter had determined that at least 5.4 million euros were laundered by Saca and Charlaix.