Court annuls conviction of former Salvadoran first lady

SAN SALVADOR (HPD) — A superior court in El Salvador on Wednesday annulled the 10-year prison sentence of former first lady Ana Ligia de Saca and her brother Oscar Edgardo Mixco Sol, accused of money and asset laundering, and ordered that the trial be repeated.

The decision of the First Criminal Chamber of San Salvador was confirmed by Mrs. de Saca’s defense attorneys, who filed the appeal before the court requesting the annulment of the conviction.

“This conviction has been rendered null and void. The 10-year sentence she had had disappeared; the annulment is total,” defense attorney Eduardo Cardoza told reporters.

In its resolution, the court ordered that a new public hearing or trial be held as soon as possible, but did not speak about the freedom situation of the former first lady and her brother. The defense attorney announced that he will present an appeal for clarification so that he can rule on their freedom, since before the sentence they enjoyed alternative measures to provisional detention.

After her conviction, Mrs. de Saca was sent to the Women’s Prison in Ilopango, on the eastern outskirts of the capital. However, since January she has been hospitalized in a private clinic in San Salvador due to health problems.

The former first lady was prosecuted for the crimes of money laundering and cover-up of a network that laundered 25 million dollars by triangulating funds that came out of the state coffers to individuals, who transferred them to various advertising agencies, which in turn, they sent them to communication companies belonging to the family of former President Tony Saca.

The case is linked to acts of corruption by the Saca government, which has already been tried and found guilty of diverting more than 300 million dollars from public coffers to favor its companies and third parties.

The 57-year-old former president is serving a ten-year sentence in La Esperanza prison, on the outskirts of San Salvador. In September 2018, Saca requested an abbreviated trial and, after confessing to his crimes, a court sentenced him for embezzlement, money and asset laundering.

Saca, who governed the country from 2004 to 2009, was arrested in September 2016 and is one of the four former Salvadoran presidents prosecuted for illicit enrichment and acts of corruption during their mandates. The others are Francisco Flores (1999-2004), who died of a stroke while in the family; Mauricio Funes (2009-2014), and Salvador Sánchez Cerén (2014-2019), who sought asylum in Nicaragua after President Daniel Ortega granted them Nicaraguan nationality, which prevents them from being extradited.

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