Salvadoran Court Gets Ready To Search Files On The El Mozote Massacre

An investigative court in El Salvador sworn in this Friday as experts two files in criminal proceedings for the massacre of about a thousand peasants in 1981 in El Mozote (northeast), thus preparing to search several Army barracks for files military related to this crime against humanity.

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The San Francisco Gotera Investigating Court, in charge of Judge Jorge Guzmán, thus resumed hearings in the process against 16 military commanders linked to the massacre, after more than three months of unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This appointment is relevant to carry out judicial inspections in military files, which is a very important step for the case and that for the first time would be taking place in El Salvador,” the lawyer for the victims and a member of the organization told reporters. Cristosal, David Morales.

He noted that the documentation that the experts Fernando Rafael Rivas and Jorge Alberto Juárez may locate, will serve as “documentary evidence or proof in the case.”

“We hope that the defense minister (René Monroy) and the president of the Republic (Nayib Bukele) as commander general (of the Armed Forces) will not proceed to block this procedure, it would be totally illegal and they would incur criminal responsibility,” he said. Morales.

During the hearing, in which the accusing party contested the appointment of two experts proposed by the defense of the military, prosecuted for “not meeting impartiality requirements for having been under the chain of command and because one of them had a close relationship also with several of the accused “.

These are Óscar Quiteño and Nelson Saldaña, the latter was the companion of some of the accused and served as head of the National Intelligence Department (DNI) when six Jesuit parents and two women were murdered in 1989.

“It is public knowledge that all members of the DNI at that time knew that the crime was committed by the Armed Forces, but they kept silent. If at that time he was complicit in silence and refused to tell the truth, what guarantees that now will speak the truth as an expert, “stressed the lawyer.

The oath of the Guatemalan expert Velia Elisa Muralles Bautista, who was not present at the hearing, was pending and the defense rejected her appointment by videoconference.

The Legal Guardianship organization “María Julia Hernández”, which is also part of the accusation and represents the victims and survivors of the massacre, confirmed to Efe that Bautista works in the Historical Archive of the National Police (AHPN) of Guatemala.

The two sworn experts gave Judge Guzmán a document with the methodology they plan to implement for their expertise, without knowing the start date.

Efe tried to find out from Thursday whether the Defense Ministry will allow the inspections to be carried out through a government press link, without obtaining a negative or affirmative response.

A state registry estimates the number of victims of El Mozote at least 1,730, of whom 988 were executed, 48 survived the massacre, 665 are relatives of the murdered people and 29 suffered forced displacement.

According to the United Nations report, which reports on war crimes, between December 10 and 13, 1981 elite units of the Atlacatl Battalion tortured and executed “deliberately and systematically” children, men and women of the canton El Mozote and nearby sites.

The annulment of an amnesty law of 1993, through a ruling of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) in July 2016, allowed the reopening of the process.

For this massacre, perpetrated during the Salvadoran civil war (1980-1992), 16 retired soldiers are prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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