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El Salvador refuses to arrest priests' murder suspects

Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:15

Aug 25 - El Salvador won't arrest nine former soldiers who Spain accuses of killing Jesuit priests during the country's civil war. Sunita Rappai reports.

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El Salvador, November 1989: Shocking images emerge of six Jesuit priests shot dead by US-backed soldiers during the country's bloody civil war. The five Spanish and one Salvadorean priest had condemned rights abuses committed by the army during the war. The attacks drew world-wide condemnation and this statement from then president, Alfredo Cristiani. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ALFREDO CRISTIANI, THEN-PRESIDENT OF EL SALVADOR, SAYING: "What I think is that we must investigate it and if there were people involved who turn out to be members of the armed forces, then the weight of the law must also fall on them." But fast forward 22 years and El Salvador's Supreme Court refused on Thursday to arrest nine former soldiers accused by Spain of killing the priests. Despite an international arrest warrant issued in May, the court ruled that Interpol had only ordered the soldiers be located - and not their arrest. Judges said the prevailing law was Salvadorean. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) NESTOR CASTANEDA, SUPREME COURT JUDGE, SAYING: "We've resolved this on the basis of our internal law because the extradition treaty between Spain and El Salvador establishes that it will be resolved in accordance with the internal legislation of the requisite country. Because of this, we, as El Salvador's highest court of justice, have to obey what the Republic's constitution and the extradition treaty say." The ruling will go down well with El Salvador's former soldiers who recently poured on to the streets to protest over the case. SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER, SAYING: "We hope that, this time, the Spanish embassy will respect our rights, will respect our country. That's what we are asking for: that our country, our people, our home which is El Salvador, not step on us." An estimated 75,000 people were killed during the brutal 12-year conflict which finally ended in 1992. Sunita Rappai,Reuters.

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El Salvador refuses to arrest priests' murder suspects

Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 02:15