El Salvador judge orders seizure of former president's assets

November 5, 2016 3:02 PM EDT

El Salvador's former president Elias Antonio Saca leaves a courthouse after his hearing on corruption charges in San Salvador, El Salvador November 5, 2016. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

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SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - An El Salvador judge on Saturday ordered the seizure of assets owned by ex-President Antonio Saca and six of his former officials as they face charges of stealing some $246 million of public funds, the attorney general's office said.

Judge Nelly Pozas ruled that there was enough evidence proving the involvement of the accused to embargo properties in their names, prosecutor Jorge Cortez said.

The judge also decided to keep all seven men in pre-trial detention.

Antonio Saca, 51, who was captured last week during one of his sons weddings, is charged with embezzlement, illegal groupings and money laundering.

Saca, who owns radio stations, was president of the Central American country from 2004 to 2009 with the Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena) party.

"I believe I am totally innocent and we came to this process...to disprove the accusations," Saca said in court on Friday.

El Salvador, which has refused to set up an international impunity commission as Guatemala did, has begun a crusade against corruption, but only in past administrations.

The former leftist president Mauricio Funes is currently under political asylum in Nicaragua.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Christine Murray, Editing by Franklin Paul)

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