As the alleged crime was committed in April 2004 and wasn’t taken to trial until March 2019, the case was expired per the statute of limitations.
Two Salvadoran ex-presidents were acquitted by the Second Criminal Chamber Saturday of allegations for siphoning funds from a US$10 million donation from Taiwan to El Salvador between 2003 and 2004.
"The Second Chamber of Criminal Matters decided to annul the judicial process that began on March 1 in the Second Court of Peace in the case of funds donated to the country by Taiwan in which presidents Elias Antonio Saca and Francisco Flores were being processed", local media reported. Flores is already deceased.
The charges leveled against the men stem from a deal involving Taiwan, whereby the Asian nation granted El Salvador US$10 million "to execute four projects." However, according to German Arriaza, head of the corruption and impunity unit of the prosecutor's office, the defendants were found to be "actively involved" in laundering the monies.
As the alleged crime was committed in April 2004 and wasn’t taken to trial until March 2019, the court ruled to acquit the pair of presidents and four other former state officials involved, as the statute of limitations on these crimes is 10 years.
"This court analyzed the grounds used by the Second Court of Judgment and determined that the only evidence ... (of) financial accounting expertise does not determine in any exact manner the amount for which the defendants must respond," the judges ruled.
President Nayib Bukele responded to the decision on Twitter writing, “See what they just did today [the judges]: freeing the corrupt, not because they were not corrupt, but because they had a prescribed deadline.”
Salvadoran Attorney General Raul Melara bemoaned the results writing, "Others went through this Office without taking action and now we see the results. In my administration this is not going to happen."
Saca is currently serving 10 years in a San Salvador jail after being found guilty of "misapropriation of more than US$300M in public funds,” teleSUR correspondents report.
In the case of deceased former President Flores the prosecutor's office requested a "definitive dismissal" because Flores died, failing from a heart attack Jan. 30, 2016.