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El Salvador drops 1 case against former president

August 23, 2021 GMT
FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2018 file photo, El Salvador's former President Tony Saca attends a hearing at the Isidro Menendez Judicial Complex in San Salvador, El Salvador. The Central American country´s prosecutor´s office asked Monday, August 23, 2021, to exonerate Saca, who stands accused of embezzling public funds, after the statute of limitations have passed in the case against him and two other leaders of his political party. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2018 file photo, El Salvador's former President Tony Saca attends a hearing at the Isidro Menendez Judicial Complex in San Salvador, El Salvador. The Central American country´s prosecutor´s office asked Monday, August 23, 2021, to exonerate Saca, who stands accused of embezzling public funds, after the statute of limitations have passed in the case against him and two other leaders of his political party. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2018 file photo, El Salvador's former President Tony Saca attends a hearing at the Isidro Menendez Judicial Complex in San Salvador, El Salvador. The Central American country´s prosecutor´s office asked Monday, August 23, 2021, to exonerate Saca, who stands accused of embezzling public funds, after the statute of limitations have passed in the case against him and two other leaders of his political party. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez, File)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — Prosecutors in El Salvador asked a court Monday to drop criminal charges against former President Tony Saca and members of his Arena party for the alleged diversion of $10 million donated by Taiwan to help victims of 2001 earthquakes.

Prosecutors said the statute of limitations on the offense had run out.

In July, prosecutors raided the offices of the Arena party in a bid to recover the money, because the statute of limitations had not run out on the civil case.

Saca and former President Francisco Flores had been accused of money laundering along with three other leaders of the conservative party

Flores died in January 2016 under house arrest while awaiting trial on charges including illicit enrichment and misuse of public funds.

Saca and his wife, Ana Ligia de Saca, were also found guilty of illicit enrichment earlier this year and have been ordered to repay the government $4.4 million.

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That was because Saca could not explain the origin of $6.5 million in income he made while president. Saca will also be barred from holding public office for 10 years.

Saca is already serving a 10-year prison sentence for corruption and has already been ordered to return some $260 million to the state. His wife was sentenced to 10 years.

Saca was convicted on those charges in September 2018 after pleading guilty in connection with the diversion of more than $300 million from government coffers to benefit of his businesses and third parties, becoming the first Salvadoran ex-president found guilty of corruption.

Saca, 54, was president from 2004 to 2009 and was arrested in October 2016.