A Spanish judge said he would prosecute 14 military officers from El Salvador for the 1989 massacre of eight Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter.
The case challenges El Salvador’s amnesty law, reports the Chicago Tribune, and also is a new test for the “universal jurisdiction” principal, which Spain used in 1998 in its attempt to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for crimes against humanity.
The soldiers involved in the killing were imprisoned for a few years, but have been free since the amnesty law was passed in 1993 after El Salvador’s 12-year civil war ended.
Although human-rights campaigners are pushing for a change in the law, so far there is no drive inside the country to do so.
Even the leftist front-runner in El Salvador’s upcoming presidential elections broke with his party’s position, saying that he would leave the amnesty law in place if he were to win the poll.
“El Salvador amnesty law lets perpetrators of priests’ murders walk free”
Chicago Tribune, March 1, 2009