Cases of 40 year old crimes by Salvadoran guerrillas revived by high court
As four prominent magistrates of El Salvador's Constitutional Chamber finish off their terms in office, they have directed that two dormant cases of murder by guerrilla fighters be reopened.
One of the case involves the abduction and murder in 1979 of South Africa's ambassador to El Salvador, Archibald Gardner Dunn. From a 1979 UPI report of the kidnapping of the ambassador:
SAN SALVADOR, Nov. 28 (UPI) — A group of armed men surrounded South Africa's Ambassador to El Salvador today as he left the embassy here, forced him into the back of a truck and drove off, witnesses said.
Embassy employees said there were 14 to 18 men in the group and that they were armed with submachine guns. The employees said the kidnapping occurred as Ambassador Archibald Gardner Dunn, 60 years old, walked out of the embassy with his chauffeur at about noon.From the BBC:
Almost a year later, the left-wing rebel group Popular Liberation Forces said it had killed the diplomat.
President Sánchez Cerén was the group's second in command at the time....On Tuesday, the Constitutional Chamber ruled that Sánchez Cerén must answer questions concerning the whereabouts of the ambassador's body. Again from the BBC report:
The lawsuit has been brought by Dunn's relatives, who are trying to find out what happened to the ambassador. His family says that despite the payment of a $2m (£1.5m) ransom and the intervention of Archbishop Óscar Romero, the rebels did not reveal the whereabouts of Dunn.
On 8 October 1980, the rebel group instead circulated a statement saying they had killed the diplomat for "noncompliance with our demands". His body has never been found.A spokesman for the president has rejected the court's ruling as a political attack:
"The president did not belong to the leadership of the FPL that year, and was a labour leader for teachers. This ruling has the political aim of hurting the president's image," presidential spokesman Roberto Lorenzana said in a brief statement.The president and the FMLN have long complained about their perception that the Constitutional Chamber was controlled by right wing interests.
In another ruling, the Chamber held that the Salvadoran courts must reopen the case of slain poet Roque Dalton. In 1975 Dalton was executed by members of his own revolutionary movement, the ERP, because they allegedly believed he was a spy. His family has long been seeking justice for the killing.
In this instance Salvadoran justice should also demand that Nida Diaz, herself originally an urban commando with the ERP and then co-founder of the PRTC, testify under oath regarding the kidnapping and death of the SA ambassador.
Diaz, as described by former FPL urban guerrilla and later commander in the PRTC and Diaz's aide, knew all there was to know regarding the urban guerrilla organization and operations in San Salvador - http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a394030.pdf
Both the former Salvadoran FMLN president and Nida Diaz should come clean regarding this crime.
I applaud the murder of Roque Dalton may likewise be prosecuted. Dalton was a remarkable poet and his killing was politically motivated due to the internal struggle for power within the FMLN movement. Accusing him of being a CIA agent was an easy method of removing him from influence within the guerrilla movement - and his family and memory deserve a full accounting and trial of those responsible.