Supreme Court denies extradition request in Jesuit case

El Salvador's supreme judicial court has refused the request of Spain for the extradition of 13 former military officers in the case of the 1989 murder of the Jesuits.   The result is not very surprising, but does contribute to the ongoing impunity for human rights violations which occurred during El Salvador's civil war.   The court ruled that prior to the year 2000, Salvadoran law prohibited the extradition of its citizens.   Since the murders occurred in 1989, the court decided that it had to apply the ban on extradition which existed at that time.

There is still no progress on attempts to repeal the amnesty law which was passed at the conclusion of the civil war.   That law serves as the justification for the Salvadoran government not to bring those responsible for civil war human rights violations to justice in El Salvador's own courts.


On May 8, 2012, El Salvador's Supreme Court denied Spain's request for extradition of 13 Salvadorans who have been criminally charged with involvement in the November 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests and their housekeeper and her daughter.

According to the Court, the request was denied because El Salvador's constitution in effect in 1989 prohibited the extradition of Salvadoran citizens. This decision was supported by nine of the 15 judges of the Court; how the other six voted was not disclosed.

This decision was criticized by the director of the human rights institute at Universidad de Centro America, where the Jesuits taught and were killed. He noted, however, that the suspects would be subject to arrest under an INTERPOL Red Notice if they left the country.

A lawyer for the suspects said that he was working on a request to the Spanish court to terminate the criminal case regarding the murder of the Jesuits.

In the meantime, there has been no news regarding how and when the U.S. will respond to Spain's request for extradition of two Salvadorans who are suspects in the same case and who are living in the U.S.

Malkin, El Salvador: Court Denies Spain Request for Extradition of Suspects in Killings, N.Y. Times (May 9, 2012),; AFP, Supreme Court denies extradition to Spain of military trial for murder of Jesuits, ElFaro (May 9, 2012)(Google translation),; AP, Criticized decision not to extradite former military Salvadorans, LaPrensaGrafica (May 9, 2012),; Avalos, Chavez & Flores, Military can be extradited from another country, LaPrensaGrafica (May 9, 2012),