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El Salvador's former president sentenced to 14 years in prison for negotiating with gangs

Funes is the second Salvadoran president to be sentenced to prison for illegal activity

Megacárcel en El Salvador
Megacárcel en El Salvador | EFE

May 30, 2023 12:09am

Updated: May 30, 2023 12:09am

Former Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Monday for negotiating with gangs and criminal groups during his presidency, the attorney general’s office announced. 

"Those engaged in backroom deals at the expense of the blood of Salvadorans have been sentenced to pay in prison for the damage caused to society," Justice Minister Gustavo Villatoro said on Twitter.

The court also sentenced former Security Minister Gen. David Munguia Payes to 18 years in prison for his involvement in the negotiations during Funes’ administration. 

"We were able to verify that these two former officials, who had the obligation to protect Salvadorans, negotiated their lives in exchange for electoral favors, acting as gang members," Attorney General Rodolfo Delgado said on Twitter.

The judge gave Funes, 64, eight years in prison for illicit association and six years for failing to perform his duties. 

Funes served as president of El Salvador from 2009 to 2014. In 2019 he moved to Nicaragua and became a citizen. The trial against Funes began in April after The Central American country changed its laws to allow trials in absentia. 

Despite the sentencing by the Salvadoran Court, Funes cannot be extradited from Nicaragua because the country’s constitution states that no citizen can be extradited. 

Funes has denied negotiating with gangs. Payes has also claimed he is innocent, adding that the trial was full of irregularities and could be politically based. 

“I consider myself a political prisoner, for only having served as the ex-minister of President Funes. They accuse me of a series of accusations that have no foundation,” he said. 

Funes is the second Salvadoran president to be sentenced to prison for illegal activity.

In 2018, former President Tony Saca was sentenced to 10 years in prison for diverting more than $300 million in state funds.