One year later, questions about Soto murder remain

One year ago today, Gilberto Soto was gunned down outside his mother's home in Usulutan, El Salvador. Soto was a US citizen and a Teamster. Soto had gone to his native El Salvador to investigate the working conditions of truck drivers at the ports. He was shot in the back as he talked on a cellphone outside his boyhood home.

Salvadoran authorities eventually arrested some gang members and Soto's mother-in-law, the supposed "intellectual author" of the crime, and called the murder a family dispute. Yet many doubts have been raised about this theory and about the refusal of Salvadoran authorities to consider a political motive for the crime. This story on North summarized what was known and what were open questions in May 2005. Nothing new has come to light in the past six months.

With the one year anniversary of the murder approaching, the Teamsters issued a press release highlighting questions raised by the Human Rights Institute at the University of Central America (IDUHCA), whom the Teamsters had asked to investigate the case:

The IDHUCA ... cited demonstrated incompetence by the police and the Attorney General of El Salvador in public oversight of the investigation. They also decried the Salvadoran government's use of "confidential sources," a practice that has long been condemned by a broad range of international human rights organizations.

In a press conference covered by Diario CoLatino, Roberto Burgos, a lawyer for the IDUHCA, decried the obstacles which the Salvadoran government was placing in the way of his review of the matter. He cited inconsistencies in the police investigation, the abuse of confidential sources, and the failure of police to secure the scene of the crime immediately after the shooting.