A breach of impunity: the trial for the murder of Jesuits in El Salvador – report of the observer for Latin America of the International Commission of Jurists

The 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests and two of their household family at the Central American University (UCA) in San Salvador stunned even those who were familiar with the brutal violence of the Salvadoran Civil War.

The eight, murdered in the early morning of November 16, joined the litany of 70,000 other men, women, and children who had been killed in a war of attrition that has spanned a dozen years.

The present volume represents a study by the ICJ of the trial, eventually held in San Salvador in September 1991, of the eight men accused of the UCA killings. The study concludes that justice was not achieved in this trial; indeed, justice probably could not have been achieved. But the wall that has insulated the Salvadoran military from the claims of justice has been broken.

The report provides an overview of the country and describes the political and social context in which the assassinations occurred and in which the trial was held. It also describes in minute detail the military precision with which these crimes were prepared and executed.

El Salvador-trial murder Jesuits-trial observation report-1992-eng (full text in English, PDF)

El Salvador-trial murder Jesuits-trial observation report-1991-spa (full text in Spanish, PDF)

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