Comments, Human Rights, In Focus, Latin America

Delayed justice for a cold-blooded murder

On 17 March 1982, four journalists were killed by a patrol that ambushed them on their way to a guerrilla-controlled area during their coverage for IKON TV. It happened in El Salvador. After four decades of impunity, the culprits have finally been punished.


This was made possible by María Arguello, Judge of First Instance in the city of Dulce Nombre de María (department of Chalatenango), who ordered the arrest of the men in uniform. She ordered it these days, after more than four decades of demands for justice for the murder of Jan Cornelius Kuiper Joop, Koos Jacobus Andries Koster, Hans ter Laag and Joop Johannes Jan Willemsen, members of a television crew.

These claims were heard year after year and now the former Minister of Defence, General José Guillermo García, and the former director of the Treasury Police (PH), Colonel Francisco Antonio Morán, the main accused of the crime against humanity, will have to answer for their actions. The cold-blooded murder of the journalists marked the lives not only of their loved ones, but also of their colleagues, who prevented it from being forgotten.

Another of the alleged culprits, Colonel Mario Adalberto Reyes Mena, former commander of the fourth infantry brigade, is also wanted.

An extradition order was issued, but as in many cases of criminals of the time, they are protected and in hiding in the United States.

The former Minister of Defence and the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are prosecuted for murder by omission and the former director of the PH and the former commander of the 4th Infantry Brigade for being the perpetrator-by-means.

The journalists were killed on 17 March 1982 by a patrol that ambushed them in Santa Rita, Chalatenango, while they were on their way to a guerrilla-controlled area during their journalistic coverage for IKON TV.

On that date in 2022, relatives of the four Dutch nationals demanded a speedy and transparent trial and asked the government and the Armed Forces to recognise this crime and provide the archives to clarify the facts.

This process faced many obstacles for years, and even when the Dulce Nombre de María court began the inquiry in 1982, the judge investigating the case was threatened and took refuge in Canada.

Also, in 1993 the case was closed because of the Amnesty Law that pardoned war crimes, but in 2016 this law was declared unconstitutional. PL
(Translated by Cristina Popa – Email: Pixabay

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