Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Court cites high military commanders in El Mozote massacre case

Twenty ex-members of El Salvador's military, including high-ranking generals, have been cited to appear in court in San Francisco Gotera, in Morazan department, in connection with the 1981 El Mozote massacre.    This is the first case in a court in El Salvador involving El Mozote and the first case to proceed after last year's nullification of the 1993 Amnesty Law.   The ex-military have court dates on the 29th and 30th of March to hear the charges against them, but can send attorneys rather than appearing in person.

The cited officers include  general José Guillermo García, ex-minister of defense; general Rafael Flores Lima, ex-chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces; Colonel Jaime Flores Grijalva, ex-commander of the Third Infantry Brigade, General Juan Rafael Bustillo, ex-commander of the Salvadoran Air Force and other lower ranking officers involved in the events.

The crimes alleged include murders, aggravated rape, kidnapping, acts of terrorism and other offenses.

The actions of the judge in San Francisco Gotera responds to a petition by the legal team for the victims headed by Tutela Legal “María Julia Hernández.”    The human rights lawyers have complained about the slow, passive approach being taken by the Attorney General's office which has not moved the case forward despite the removal of the Amnesty Law and a judgment of the Inter-American Court for Human Rights requiring the government of El Salvador to investigate and prosecute these crimes against humanity.

The December 1981 El Mozote massacre was perhaps the worst atrocity of El Salvador's twelve year civil war.  All but one of the civilians taking refuge in the small village of El Mozote, more than 800 men, women, children and babies, were brutally killed by the Salvadoran army.  It is a tragedy the world must never forget.

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