Latin America & Caribbean

Court throws out El Salvador civil war amnesty law

The remains of 11 victims of the El Mozote massacre in 1981 are lined up to be handed over to their relatives (20/05/2016) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some people in El Salvador fear the court's decision could open old wounds

Rights groups have welcomed a ruling by El Salvador's Supreme Court which struck down an amnesty law approved in 1993.

Wednesday's decision means human rights violations by the military and rebels during the civil war which ended in 1992 could now be prosecuted.

The court declared the law unconstitutional.

It said it denied Salvadorans the right to justice and compensation for war crimes.

Alleged war crimes, including the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the killing of six Jesuit priests in the 1980s, could now come to court.

Rights group Amnesty International said the country could finally deal with its tragic past.

However, some Salvadoreans fear the ruling could open old wounds.

"I hope this decision does not turn into a witch hunt," said the country's Defence Minister, David Mungia.

Both the military and rebel fighters from the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, which is now the ruling party, have been accused of atrocities.

Many former left-wing rebels have become politicians and lawmakers, including the country's current president, Salvador Sanchez Ceren.

It is estimated that more than 75,000 people died and thousands more disappeared during the 1980-92 war.

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