El Salvador court starts looking at ex-president's suspicious wealth

Former leftwing president Mauricio Funes of El Salvador has sought asylum in Nicaragua due to what he calls political persecution

An El Salvador court began proceedings Monday looking into the suspected illegal enrichment of former leftist president Mauricio Funes, his ex-wife and one of his sons.

Funes himself was absent from court, having sought asylum in Nicaragua for what he says is political persecution. He was represented by a lawyer.

Prosecutors allege that there is no justification for $729,000 in assets declared by Funes, who was in power 2009-2014.

His son Diego Funes had $118,600 in suspicious declared assets, and his ex-wife Vanda Pignato was under scrutiny for $57,000.

"We have presented sufficient documented and investigatory evidence, and there is no doubt whatsoever about the unjustified increase in the wealth of those involved in this case," chief prosecutor Hector Martinez said.

The court's proceedings were expected to last several days.

According to the court's press service, Funes has sent a sealed declaration on the matter that will be opened during a hearing.

Pignato was present, and said before the court proceedings opened that she was confident the allegations against her would be put to rest.

Martinez said that if the court found there had been illegal enrichment, "they will be required to return this money."

The prosecutor's office has opened a separate investigation against Funes for suspected corruption.