About Our People Legal Stuff

An El Salvador judge reopened a probe into the country's most notorious massacre


A judge in El Salvador is reopening a probe into one of the most notorious massacres in recent history: the murder of hundreds of people in the village of El Mozote.

Human rights advocate Ovidio Mauricio told The Associated Press on Saturday that Judge Jorge Guzman Urquilla has accepted his organization's request to continue investigating the murders.

The request is based on a ruling by the country's Supreme Court that overturned a law that granted an amnesty for war crimes during El Salvador's 1979-1992 civil war.

A postwar truth commission concluded that the army massacred at least 500 people in El Mozote and surrounding villages in three days in December 1981. Victims' rights advocates put the number closer to 1,000.

Researchers say the villagers had tried to remain neutral, but the army suspected them of rebel sympathies.

Villagers march Saturday Dec. 11, 2004 in Morazan, El Salvador with the remains of victims from the massacre known as "El Mozote" perpatrated in 1981 by members of the Elite Atlacatl Battalion of the Salvadoran army. More than 240 people have been identified by Argentine forensics scientists working in excavations. (AP Photo/ E. Argueta, Office Protects Legal)

Those who live in the village and surrounding areas continue to remember the massacre, keeping alive the memories of those who were killed. 

Marta Arcadia Ramirez Portillo, 61, waits for remains of four family members to be exhumed, who were executed by the army in December 1981 during the civil war, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2003. A group of Argentinian forensic anthroplogists hosted by the Roman Catholic Church renewing the search for bodies of victims of a 1991 massacre. The team is to look for more bodies from the massacre at El Mozote, a village in southern El Salvador, which occurred during the country's civil war, which ended in 1992. A postwar truth commission determined that the U.S.-trained Atlacatl Battalion killed at least 500 villagers during three days in December 1981, apparently believing they were rebel sympathizers. (AP Photo/Luis Romero)

Due to the disagreement over the number of villagers killed, anthropologists have searched for the remains of other victims in the area. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Read Comments
Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest Linked In List Menu Enlarge Gallery Info Menu Close Angle Down Angle Up Angle Left Angle Right Grid Grid Play Align Left Search Youtube Mail Mail Angle Down Bookmark