Spanish courts go after El Salvador military leaders

May 31, 2011

A judge on Spain’s national criminal court has issued arrest warrants for military officials from El Salvador who played a leading role in that country’s civil war. They are accused of  “meticulously planning and carrying out the killings of six Jesuit priests in 1989,” Elisabeth Malkin reports for the New York Times:

In a 77-page document, the judge, Eloy Velasco Nuñez …, said the 20 men named in the warrants never had doubts about “carrying out the most execrable crimes against people merely to impose their strategies and ideas.” The attack on the priests — who were killed along with their housekeeper and her teenage daughter — was considered brutal even in a civil war known for its violence against civilians. It led to a crisis in El Salvador’s relations with the United States, which had helped the country’s armed forces against leftist rebels, and intensified international pressure on the government to enter peace negotiations. Five of the six Jesuits were born in Spain, where judges have used the doctrine of universal jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed outside of the country, as they did against the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

More here.