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Last Updated: Monday, 11 August, 2003, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
Ex-president 'to face Miami trial'
Arnoldo Aleman
The former president has been told he must await trial in prison
Nicaraguan ex-president Arnoldo Aleman is to face money-laundering charges in a Miami court, according to reports.

Nicaragua's chief prosecutor Francisco Fiallos, in Miami, told local press: "We have been working all week with customs agents, preparing all of the evidence that we have, and we will definitely be able to announce this week the date of Aleman's trial."

Mr Aleman, 57, who left office at the beginning of last year, has been under house arrest at his luxurious ranch outside the capital Managua since December.

He has been accused of helping to embezzle tens of millions of dollars of government money for party political purposes during his presidency.

He faces several other charges of fraud, embezzlement and money laundering and is also accused of having defrauded the state television network of $1.3m.

Immunity ruling

Mr Fiallos told La Prensa newspaper that it would be a process that had various stages and different actions.

Investigations into the former president's activities are reported to have implicated 40 others, including members of Mr Aleman's family and 16 of his former staff.

Last week, a Nicaraguan judge ordered that Mr Aleman should be kept in prison while awaiting trial.

Criminal judge Juana Mendez said financial problems meant police were struggling to the provide the 20 guards assigned to ensure Mr Aleman remained on his property.

She ruled that a specially refurbished prison cell was suitable accommodation for the former president.

Mr Aleman's lawyers are reported to be appealing against the ruling.

The French news agency AFP says the Managua-based Central American Court of Justice is due to rule on Mr Aleman's complaint that he was charged while still enjoying legal immunity as a deputy in the Central American Parliament.

The government says the court has no jurisdiction in the case and a ruling, expected Tuesday, would be interference in state affairs.




SEE ALSO:
Nicaragua ex-leader faces charges
20 Sep 02  |  Americas
Country profile: Nicaragua
10 Jul 03  |  Country profiles


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