The Salvadoran Justice System Fails the San Andres Massacre Victims for a Third Time

A third attempt to hold the trial in the San Andres case, where four alleged members of a death squad are being prosecuted, was expected to take place yesterday. But for the third time the trial has been suspended. The case involves members of a death squad accused of kidnapping, torturing and murdering five civilians in the village of San Andres in eastern El Salvador during the armed conflict in 1981.

Death squads terrorized El Salvador, operating as a clandestine apparatus of repression that claimed the lives of thousands of people, before and during the armed conflict. This is the first time that an attempt has been made to prosecute members of one of these groups in the local courts. 

The court in this case found that there is sufficient evidence to go to trial against the four defendants and further found that the case constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity.  Despite the importance of the case, the public hearing has now been suspended three times for administrative and logistical reasons within the judiciary and the defense. 

We have been waiting more than 40 years for justice in this case. We deeply regret this because it is a sacrifice that we make to come here from far away. This is the third time that the trial has been suspended and we have waited a long time.

José Luis Benavides, family member of victims of the San Andres massacre

Cristosal’s Transitional Justice team is participating as a prosecutor at the request of the children and survivors of two of the victims. Cristosal remains hopeful that the hearing will be held soon and that testimony and forensic evidence will lead to a conviction which would bring closure for the family and survivors in the formal justice process and set a legal precedent for the prosecution of the death squads.

40 Years is too Long to Wait. The victims of the San Andres massacre demand justice now.