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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 August, 2003, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Ex-leader moved to Managua cell
Aleman supporters
Aleman supporters say the former president's rights are being abused
Former Nicaraguan president Arnoldo Aleman has been transferred to a police cell as he awaits trials on fraud, embezzlement and money laundering charges.

Dozens of sympathisers and protesters turned out on the route to the jail in the capital, Managua, as police escorted Mr Aleman from his private ranch.

The ex-president is accused in Nicaragua of helping to divert nearly $100m of state funds into his party's election campaign, among other corruption charges.

But Mr Aleman could also face trial in the United States on charges of money-laundering, having allegedly used American banks in the operation.

Nicaragua's chief prosecutor Francisco Fiallos, in Miami, told local press on Monday: "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."

Police finances

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.

We are going to keep fighting and they are not going to destroy him
Maria Dolores Aleman
Arnoldo Aleman's daughter
The arrest makes Mr Aleman the first former Nicaraguan leader to be jailed on corruption charges.

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

The move to the Managua jail cell follows a ruling by a Nicaraguan judge 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.

Arnoldo Aleman
The former president faces a range of corruption charges
But Mr Aleman's lawyer Mauricio Martinez, who says the ex-president suffers from cardiovascular and psychological problems, complained about the cell's conditions.

"There is not even a bed and it is not air-conditioned," he said.

Mr Aleman's daughter lawyer Maria Dolores Aleman said the arrest and relocation was politically motivated.

"We are going to keep fighting and they are not going to destroy him," she said.

"Everyone needs to see how his rights are being abused."

Ex-president 'to face Miami trial'
11 Aug 03  |  Americas
Nicaragua ex-leader faces charges
20 Sep 02  |  Americas
Country profile: Nicaragua
10 Jul 03  |  Country profiles

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