Exhumation of El Calabozo Begins

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Press Release

The Madelein Lagadec Center for the Promotion of Human Rights (CPDH) and Cristosal inform the national and international community, and the media of the judicial proceedings for the exhumation of the remains of the victims murdered in the El Calabozo Massacre.

The work will center around one grave, in which it is presumed that the remains of a family killed in the massacre will be found. The family includes two children whose remains were buried, in a state of decomposition, two weeks after the event by a surviving family member who was able to return to the site.

The exhumation will take place in Amatitanes of the San Esteban Catarina municipality in the Department of San Vicente at 9:00 am on October 29, 2018. The exhumation was initially requested by the prosecutor who represents the victims in 2007, but it was demanded in a court-issued amparo when the Amnesty Law was declared unconstitutional, thus reopening the case.

By judicial order, and under the coordination of the Attorney General of the Republic, the exhumation will be carried out by the expert Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF for their acronym in Spanish) and personnel from the Institute of Forensic Medicine.

It is estimated that more than 200 people, many of them children, were killed in the El Calabozo massacre on August 22, 1982. The troops of the Atlacatl Immediate Response Battalion (BIRI), with assistance from troops of the Ramon Belloso BIRI and the Special Military Unit #2 of the Fifth Infantry Brigade formed part of operation “Mario Azenon Palma.”

Accused of the massacre are: then Minister of Defense, Guillermo García, Chief of Staff, Rafael Flores Lima, BIRI Commander “Belloso” Antonio Méndez, Commander of Special Unit #2, Sigifredo Ochoa Pérez, and the Commander of the Artillery Brigade, Adalberto Landaverde, under charges of assassination, acts of terrorism, instigating chaos, and other serious crimes.

During the military operation mentioned, the civilian population was persecuted for various days with the goal of extermination, making the inhumation of the majority of the victims impossible. After the massacre, the High Command of the Armed Forces publicly congratulated itself on the “success” of the operation.

San Salvador, October 29, 2018.