Salvadoran Government forces accused of covering up extrajudicial executions
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Salvadoran Government forces accused of covering up extrajudicial executions

Six months after the publication of an investigation that denied the massacre of eight people in El Salvador, website El Faro, who published the initial article, has begun to question investigations into the case.

Authorities had begun showing their concerns about the involvement of State forces. On March 26 2015 seven men and a woman were killed and presented as members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) criminal organization at the San Blas finca, a small farm.

However, not all those involved were gang members, nor had they opened fire against police agents, as the report states.

El Faro sustains that organizations like the Foundation for Applied Law Studies (Fespad) and the Human Rights Institute of the UCA (Idhuca), the former director of the Legal Medicine Institute, José Miguel Fortín, and even the senator of the United States for Vermont, Patrick Leahy, “believe that the Salvadoran State is allowing and covering for this Human Rights violation.”

In addition, David Morales, functionary of the Attorney for the Defense of the Human Rights (Pddh), states that there’s “a pattern of passiveness” from the country’s civil police and armed forces, in relation to Human Rights related crimes.

The website establishes that in 2015, some 494 shootings were carried out between the country’s police and armed forces and criminal groups. Current totals from the war against crime declared by the president Salvador Sánchez Cerén one year ago during January 2015, has now ascended to 309 casualties, involving alleged gang members.

According to the Nation, cases such as the massacre continue to pose increase risks to journalists involved in fact checking across the region. El Faro has been denouncing what could be considered as a campaign to silence official media investigations.

Journalists have been on the receiving end of menacing messages via social media, illegal phone tapping and even physical harassment.

The San Blas massacre

The first version of the case said stated that eight people, two of whom were underage, were killed by the police when they opened fire against the officers. The report stated that they were all ‘Maras’, members of the MS-13.

However, El Faro obtained testimonies from four survivors, the families of the victims and the forensic studies, revealing that the eight had been riddled with bullets, executed using head shots, obtained as if they were on their knees.

The site was frequently used by gang members as a hideout. The day of the massacre six gangsters were allegedly at the site. Known under the aliases of Matador, Saiper, Bote, Garrobo, Güereja and Taz, with girlfriend Sonia. It is alleged that the crime scene was later altered, with weapons placed around the victims.

The family of Dennis Hernández, a San Blas employee and the eighth innocent victim, witnessed the shootout from a distance and narrated how shots were heard. Hernández was able to talk to his family during the shootout, who urged that he co-operated with the police. His attempts were ignored and he was executed soon after.

Witness statements received little press coverage, but did make some websites such as Jesús Hernández, Dennis’ uncle tried to speak out against the massacre of his nephew. He was murdered one month later.

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