Sun, Sep 07, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Ex-Salvadorean president released for house arrest

UPSCALE INCARCERATION:Francisco Flores faces a corruption trial over funds provided by Taiwan during the government of former president Chen Shui-bian

Reuters, SAN SALVADOR

Former Salvadorean president Francisco Flores, center, smiles as he is escorted by police officers after leaving a court at the Centro Integrado de Justicia in San Salvador on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

A Salvadorean judge ordered former Salvadorean president Francisco Flores to be held under house arrest after the ex-leader turned himself in on Friday to await trial on corruption charges.

Flores, who was president of the Central American country and Taiwanese diplomatic ally from 1999 to 2004, had been on the run since January and has been accused of misappropriating about US$15 million donated by Taiwan for earthquake relief efforts in 2001.

According to the allegations against him, the money Flores received came from former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who was found guilty of corruption in 2009 and imprisoned, originally for life before his sentence was reduced.

Earlier on Friday, accompanied by his lawyers, Flores handed himself in to Judge Levis Orellana. A few hours later, Orellana ordered Flores to be held under house arrest, judiciary spokesman Ulises Marinero said.

“I presented myself voluntarily and in respect of the law. I do not think I’ll be able to make any other comments right now,” Flores said, flanked by police as he left the courtroom before heading to his home in an upscale part of the capital, San Salvador.

Dozens of people had gathered outside the courtroom to protest the former president’s alleged corruption, calling for his imprisonment.

Prosecuting attorney Bertha de Leon told reporters that the prosecution would appeal the judge’s decision, arguing that Flores should be imprisoned after being on the run for months.

“For us, the judge’s decision is not technically correct; for us, the judge has ignored what needed to be done; he has ignored the circumstances and the facts and has favored [Flores] with this decision,” she said.

Flores’ alleged corruption came to light when former Salvadorean president Mauricio Funes, who ruled the country from 2009 until earlier this year, revealed that the US was investigating Flores for “suspicious movements” into his bank accounts.

Flores is believed to have been in Panama. An Interpol “red notice,” the closest instrument to an international arrest warrant, had been issued against him.

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