June 13, 2011

Spain's National Court has invoked a special law to order the arrest and trial of 20 former Salvadoran military officers for the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter.

Five of the six Jesuits were naturalized Salvadorans of Spanish birth.

In announcing the charges, the Spanish court invoked its universal jurisdiction law, which says some crimes are so grave they can be tried anywhere.

Issuing an indictment May 20, Judge Eloy Velasco Nunez said El Salvador's juridical process "was a defective and widely criticized process that ended with two forced convictions and acquittals even of confessed killers."

Among those he indicted were a former Salvadoran defence minister.

A 1993 UN Truth Commission report said high-ranking Salvadoran military officials were responsible for ordering the murders and ordered a cover-up.

The six priests and two women were murdered Nov. 16, 1989, at their residence on the campus of Central American University.