(CNN Spanish) — An El Salvador court has sentenced the country’s former president Mauricio Funes (2009-2014) to six years in prison for tax evasion, the attorney general’s office reported Wednesday.
Funes did not speak after learning of the sentence. Cnn tried to contact the former president through her social networks, but it was not possible. Even Funes doesn’t have a lawyer. The former president was not present at the trial, since he has lived in Nicaragua since September 2016, when the government of President Daniel Ortega granted him political asylum. Since July 2019 he has been a Nicaraguan citizen. Through his Twitter account, Funes has previously rejected the allegations against him on the grounds that it is political revenge.
According to the prosecutors, Funes will have to repay the state just over $200,000 for providing false information in his 2014 statement when he left the presidency.
This is the second conviction against the former president after a court sentenced him, in absentia, to 14 years in prison on charges of illegal gangs and breach of duty in May. In that trial, former Minister of Justice and Security, David Munguía Payés, was also sentenced to 18 years for illegal gangs and breach of duty. The former official said the conviction of him was unfair and that he would try to prove his innocence.
Both Funes and Munguía Payés have been accused of promoting and facilitating the truce between gangs which, according to investigations, reduced the number of homicides in 2012 in exchange for benefits for the gangs. According to the indictment, this strengthened the gangs.
The two trials against Funes took place, despite his absence, after the reform approved by the Legislative Assembly in September 2022 which authorizes the courts to continue the criminal proceedings to avoid impunity.
Funes has other criminal cases open in El Salvador for events related to alleged corruption during his rule. In all of them he pleaded not guilty.