Latin America & Caribbean

El Salvador judge reopens El Mozote massacre investigation

Forensic anthropologist Claudia Bernard brushes dirt from human remains in El Mozote, El Salvador (October 1992) Image copyright AP
Image caption Some 75,000 people died in the 1980 to 1992 civil war, with thousands more reported as missing

A judge in El Salvador has reopened an investigation into the 1981 El Mozote massacre - considered one of the worst atrocities in the civil war.

The judge accepted a request put forward by three human rights groups to re-open the case based on a Supreme Court ruling in July.

The ruling overturned an amnesty for those who committed war crimes during the 1980 to 1992 conflict.

Some 75,000 people died in the civil war, with many of the victims children.

The July Supreme Court ruling declared the amnesty law, which was approved in 1993, unconstitutional.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Relatives of 11 victims of the El Mozote massacre were handed the exhumed remains of their loved ones at the Supreme Court in May

The court order opened to way for human rights violations by the military and rebels during the civil war to be prosecuted. Rights group said it meant the country could finally deal with its tragic past.

The killings in and around El Mozote - some 200km (120 miles) from the capital, San Salvador - were part of a "systematic plan of repression" by the military during the civil war.

Between 11 and 13 December, 1981, soldiers from a now-banned battalion, the Atlacatl, shot dead residents of El Mozote suspected of sympathising with left-wing rebels.

Nearly half of the victims were children.

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