Spanish priest Antonio Rodriguez, in custody for the past month, has confessed to aiding Salvadoran street gangs and agreed to collaborate with the law in order to speed up his trial, El Salvador's attorney general, Luis Martinez, said.

The priest's attorney, Nelson Flores, told Efe on Saturday that he would make no comment so as not to lend himself to what he called "the prosecutor's game," though another lawyer, Berta de Leon, told local media that the plea deal would soon be settled.

The Salvadoran AG's office accuses Rev. Rodriguez, known as "Father Toño," of criminal conspiracy, influence peddling and smuggling banned items to jailed gang leaders.

"In the case of Father Toño, as Rodriguez is known, I must confirm that he has now collaborated with the law," Martinez said in a statement cited Saturday in the local press.

Rodriguez "has made his confession this week and we hope to hold a special hearing next week, since he has now cooperated and confessed to the acts for which he is being charged," he said.

The attorney general added that, in exchange for his confession, Rodriguez will be able to obtain "a shortened trial."

Rodriguez was arrested on July 29 in San Salvador as part of an operation of the AG's office and the National Civil Police against gang members in various parts of the country.

Rodriguez, who is originally from Ciudad Real in central Spain, is the parish priest of Mejicanos, a municipality near San Salvador, where for a number of years he has directed a rehab program for street-gang members.

Earlier this month the Catholic Church asked Salvadoran authorities to be lenient with the Spanish priest arrested on charges of aiding gangs. EFE