A Salvadoran court sentenced former president Mauricio Funes Cartagena to 14 years in prison for crimes committed during his administration between 2009 and 2014.
Ex-President Funes was found guilty of negotiating with gangs a truce that resulted in the empowerment of these criminal organizations. The former president, currently in asylum in Nicaragua, was tried in absentia.
Funes, who ruled El Salvador between 2009 and 2014, was sentenced to eight years in prison for the crime of negotiating with illicit groups and six years for breach of duty as president.
Ex-President Funes is not the first former president sentenced to prison in El Salvador in recent years. In 2018, Elías Antonio Saca was sentenced to 10 years in jail for corruption.
They considered themselves untouchable, but the time has come to put an end to so many years of selective impunity; those who made dark negotiations at the cost of the blood of Salvadorans have been sentenced to pay in prison for the damage caused to society.”
Minister of Justice Gustavo Villatoro.
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The pact with criminal gangs by the Mauricio Funes administration
According to the prosecutors, the deal between the Funes administration and gangs included benefits for the gang leaders in prison and a reduced presence of security forces in the neighborhoods where these illegal groups worked. It also contained public investment in areas under the control of the gangs.
Ex-President Funes stated that this was an illegal trial. He also issued the following statement on his Twitter account directed to the Salvadoran Attorney General.
You have not achieved anything, Shameless Prosecutor. The sentences are unfair and illegal. The FGR was never able to prove that the crimes they accused us of were committed. And what about the current negotiations with gang leaders? Who is going to process them?”
It is unlikely that Funes will serve any time in Prison as he now resides in Nicaragua. The Ortega government granted him Nicaraguan nationality in 2019, and the Constitution of the Central American country establishes that no citizen can be extradited.
The sentence against Funes comes at a time in El Salvador when the current president Nayib Bukele has launched a war against the gangs, which has left over 68,000 people detained, but has reduced the country’s homicide rate.