El Salvador to take 1982 murder of four Dutch journalists to court
El Salvador’s justice department is finally taking legal action over the murder of four Dutch journalists 39 years ago, representatives of the victims in the Central American country have said.
‘The case is moving from the investigation phase to the trial phase,’ campaigner Oscar Pérez said on Twitter. ‘It is very good news, and very important in terms of the search for truth and justice in these crimes against humanity,’ Pérez told local media.
Koos Koster, Jan Kuiper, Joop Willemsen and Hans ter Laag were in El Salvador in 1982 to report on the bloody civil war there and were killed by government soldiers when they were trying to enter an area of the country held by guerrillas.
Up to five years ago, an amnesty was in place that made it impossible to take legal action against the soldiers but that law was torn up in 2016.
Since then, various attempts have been made to get officials to look into the killings, but without success.
One of the suspects is army colonel Mario Reyes Mena and a United Nations commission concluded in 1993 that he had given the order for the killings. Gert Kuiper, brother of one of the victims, made a formal complaint against the colonel in El Salvador in 2018.
Dutch current affairs programme Zembla traced Reyes Mena to the US where he lives for a documentary in 2019, but it is unclear if he has American citizenship or not. In that case, it would be more difficult to have him extradited to El Salvador to face trial, broadcaster NOS said.
The Dutch government said after the documentary was broadcast that it would ‘make every effort needed’ to bring those responsible for the killings to justice. And in February 2019, El Salvador’s transparency authority called on the army to open its archives as part of a new investigation into an ambush.
More news on the decision to proceed to court with the case will be presented in El Salvador on Wednesday morning.
Judicialización del Caso de los 4 Periodistas Holandeses.@CNNEE @Teleprensa33 @teledos_tcs @TN21sv @TelemundoNews @prensagrafica @prensateleSUR @tcsnoticias @_elfaro_ @GatoEncerradoSV @vocesdiarioSV @RevistaFactum @AP_Noticias @AFPespanol @contra_punto @ElMundoSV @EDHNoticias pic.twitter.com/9Atr9E2Y9A
— Oscar Antonio Pérez (@OscarPerezFC) March 15, 2021
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