Historic first step towards justice at El Mozote
El Salvador took a historic first step this week in the case of the 1981 massacre at El Mozote and the surrounding communities. For the first time, former officers of El Salvador's high military command sat before a Salvadoran judge to hear a reading of the crimes for which they are being accused of supervising and ordering. Crimes like murder, rape and kidnapping in the military operation which killed as many as 1000 civilians including hundreds of children.
A court in El Salvador notified seven former high-level military leaders on Wednesday they are being investigated for their alleged roles in the 1981 massacre of 1,000 peasants, considered the worst atrocity in the nation's bloody civil war.
The case, reopened in October, is the first since a July decision by the Supreme Court declaring unconstitutional a 1993 amnesty law that banned investigating, prosecuting, or jailing people for war crimes or human rights violations....
The Salvadoran Army's elite Atlacatl Battalion occupied the northeastern El Mozote region and surrounding areas in a bid to exterminate civilians who were allegedly collaborating with the FMLN, now the ruling party.
Former Defense Minister Jose Guillermo Garcia, ex-chief-of-staff Rafael Flores, and five other colonels were notified by the court on Wednesday, in addition to two others who did not appear.
On Thursday, the court will notify nine other retired military officials who were members of the battalion.Some of the reasons why this case is so important are explored by Sarah Esther Maslin in an article published yesterday in the Nation tiled The Salvadoran Town That Can't Forget.