SAN SALVADOR (HPD) — A Salvadoran court has ordered the provisional arrest of retired high-ranking officials of the armed forces who are accused of having participated in the murder of four Dutch journalists in 1982 while they were covering the civil war in the Central American nation.
General José Guillermo García, former Minister of Defense, and Colonel Francisco Antonio Morán, former director of the extinct Treasury Police, are among the soldiers whose capture has been ordered, the Comunicandonos Foundation, which represents in the country, told The Associated Press. to the families of the victims.
Neither the National Civil Police, in charge of carrying out the court order, nor the Public Ministry have confirmed the arrest warrants or if any have already been issued. The HPD tried to contact both agencies, but they had not immediately responded.
In March, relatives and representatives of the Dutch government and the European Union demanded that El Salvador bring to justice those responsible for the murder of Dutch journalists Koos Jacobus Andries Koster, Jan Cornelius Kuiper Joop, Hans Lodewijk ter Laag and Hohannses Jan Willemsen. , which was documented by the United Nations Truth Commission. This commission compiled the crimes committed in El Salvador during the 12 years of civil war, which ended in January 1992.
This crime, like so many others perpetrated during the civil war, was not investigated and the culprits were never prosecuted due to a General Amnesty Law promulgated in the government of former President Alfredo Cristiani (1989-1994) a few days after the report was released. of the UN Commission, which described the murder of journalists as a crime against humanity.
The resolution is from Judge María Mercedes Arguello of the department of Chalatenango, where the arrest warrant is notified on October 13.
Colonel Mario Adalberto Reyes Mena, former commander of the Fourth Infantry Brigade, is also mentioned. He resides in the United States and will be subjected to an extradition process.
The resolution includes General Rafael Flores Lima, former Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, who died on June 29, 2020, and Sergeant Mario Canizales, who has also died. Canizales allegedly led the patrol that perpetrated the ambush and massacre of the journalists.
Flores Lima was one of the soldiers prosecuted for the El Mozote massacre, in which soldiers murdered almost a thousand peasants in 1981.
Morán and Reyes Mena, like Canizales, are identified as immediate perpetrators of the crime, while García and Flores Lima are mentioned for the crime of omission.
Oscar Pérez, from Fundación Comunicarnos, pointed out that the foundation filed a criminal complaint with the Attorney General’s Office in March 2018 for the murder to be investigated. In response, he added, the Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted the case and sent the file to a court in the municipality of Dulce Nombre de María, in Chalatenango, where in 1982 “the case was opened, but without accusing anyone.”
In its report, the UN commission concluded that there is full evidence that the murder was the result of an ambush planned by Reyes Mena with the knowledge of other officials, based on an intelligence report that alerted them to the presence of the journalists.
Days before the murder, agents of the Treasury Police, dressed in civilian clothes, took the reporters to their barracks to interrogate them after learning that they had been in contact with guerrillas.
The “State did not comply with the obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish the guilty persons, as is its duty under international law,” the UN Commission stated in the text.