OAN’s Roy Francis
2:14 PM – Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Mauricio Funes, who served as the President of El Salvador from 2009 until 2014 has been sentenced in prison for negotiating with gangs during his administration according to the Associated Press.
The trial of Funes, who had been living in Nicaragua since 2014, began in April. El Salvador had changed its laws in 2022, allowing trials to be held in absentia.
The prosecutors had accused the former leader of illicit association and failure to perform his duties for the gang truce negotiated in 2012. Funes had previously denied negotiating or giving any gang leaders any privileges.
According to prosecutors, Funes had negotiated with gang leaders in an effort to lower the homicide rate in exchange for benefits to the gangs’ imprisoned leaders.
General David Munguía Payes, who had served as Funes’ Security Minister, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in the negotiations.
“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,” Payes said.
“In my opinion, the sentence, insofar as it refers to me, is illegal, doesn’t have legal foundation; the sentence of General Munguía Payes seem unjust to me,” Funes said, adding that the state had “failed to prove the charges.”
The sentence handed down to Payes was the sum of eight years for illicit association and six for failure to perform his duties.
Attorney General Rodolfo Delgado took to Twitter to say that they had proved that the two ex-officials “negotiated their lives in exchange for electoral favors, acting like gang members.”
In 2015, the country’s Supreme Court had ruled that the gangs that Funes had negotiated with are terrorist organizations.
Current President Nayib Bukele has also been accused of similar negotiations with the gangs. In December 2021, the United Sates Treasury accused Bukele’s government of secretely negotiating with gangs to lower homicide rates. In exchange imprisoned gang leaders were allegedly given special privileges.
Former Attorney General Raúl Melara had said he would investigate the allegations, however when Bukele’s party took control, the new lawmakers ousted Melara and the investigation never took place.
The truce between Bukele and the gang leaders had apparently been broken in March 2022 when gangs killed 62 people in one day. Bukele then responded by suspending certain rights and has been waging a war against the gangs of the country since then.
Funes had fled with his family to Nicaragua in 2014, and in 2019 became a naturalized citizen of the country.
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