Arrest warrant issued for Salvador's ex-president

SAN SALVADOR (AFP) - A Salvadoran judge issued an arrest warrant on Tuesday for former president Francisco Flores, who may have fled the country after being accused of misappropriating millions of dollars donated by Taiwan.

"The judge (Marta Rosales) informed us this afternoon that she was issuing the arrest warrant" for Mr Flores, whose whereabouts are unknown, said his attorney Edgar Morales.

The court also ordered Mr Flores' assets seized, including several homes, cars and boats, Mr Morales said. Mr Flores will learn of the warrant in the media, according to his attorney who said he was hired by Mr Flores' spouse.

In power between 1999 and 2004, Mr Flores was investigated both by Congress and the attorney general's office in the wake of allegations by President Mauricio Funes that Flores received up to US$15 million (S$18.7 million) in donations from Taiwan without accounting for them.

Funes claimed Taipei donated the money to El Salvador in the waning months of Mr Flores' presidency, between 2003 and 2004.

Mr Flores has said he accepted money but did nothing inappropriate, passing it on through the proper channels.

Friday, legislature speaker Sigfrido Reyes asked Panama to help locate Mr Flores, after a Panamanian media outlet reported Mr Flores was in that country.

El Salvador's Attorney General Luis Martinez told broadcaster TCS last month that Mr Flores is wanted for embezzlement, illicit enrichment and disobedience.