Former Military Chief Accused of Ordering Massacre at El Mozote

The accused is also being prosecuted in Spain for the murder of six Jesuit priests in November 1989

Juan Rafael Bustillo / Photo: Vladimir Chicas

Juan Rafael Bustillo / Photo: Vladimir Chicas

Today, a court of justice in eastern El Salvador notified retired general Juan Rafael Bustillo, former commander of the Air Force, of the charges he faces as alleged mastermind of the massacre at El Mozote, where about 1,000 people died in December 1981.

Other senior military commanders who are accused of the same crimes did not appear today; they have already been notified of the allegations against them in regard to the largest massacre in Latin America in the past century.

Bustillo was chief of the Air Force during the Civil War (1980-1992) and one of the counterinsurgency strategists. He is also being prosecuted in Spain for the murder of six Jesuit priests in November 1989.

Jorge Alberto Guzmán Urquilla, judge of the San Francisco Gotera court, notified Bustillo of the following accusations: murder, rape, deprivation of liberty, breaking and entering, theft, aggravated damages, rape, preparatory acts of terrorism, and terrorism against the residents of El Mozote.

The United Nations (UN) Truth Commission, working after the end of the civil war in 1992, concluded that between December 10-13, 1981, soldiers and officers of the Atlacatl Battalion "deliberately and systematically" tortured and executed men, women, and children in and around El Mozote.

In the so-called counterinsurgency war, the Salvadoran army is reported to have carried out several massacres and killed thousands of people in Sumpul River, Las Hojas, and El Calabozo, among others.

During 12 years of civil war, more than 70,000 people died and another 8,000 disappeared; one million took refuge in neighboring Central American countries, Mexico, and the United States.


Translated from ContraPunto (October 19, 2017). Acusan a exjefe militar de haber ordenado masacre de El Mozote. ContraPunto. Retrieved from