A Spanish judge decided Monday to continue the investigation into the murder of five Spanish Jesuits in El Salvador in 1989 despite Spain's recent enactment of a law limiting the application universal jurisdiction.
But in a nod to the new standard, National Court Judge Eloy Velasco dropped the crimes-against-humanity charge against a score of Salvadoran military officers, while maintaining the accusation of terrorist murder.
The law that took effect earlier this month mandates that crimes against humanity committed outside Spanish territory may be prosecuted in Spain only if the alleged perpetrators are Spaniards or foreigners who acquired Spanish citizenship after the commission of the offense.
Besides quashing one of the accusations, the judge has to restrict his investigation to the murder of the five Spaniards among the eight people who were slaughtered.
Velasco decided to move forward with the case despite the fact that universal jurisdiction mandates that all existing probes be shelved, pending a finding that the case meets the new standards.
He said that he felt the reform is "illogical" because, in his judgment, it is "contradictory" that a judge should shelve a case and then decide if it meets the new standards.
Velasco said the only person who may decide whether or not to continue with a case is the investigating magistrate.
In complying with the reform, the judge also asked Spain's Supreme Court to determine if the trial held in El Salvador for the killings was a fraud, as Velasco believes, in which case he would conclude that the murders have not been investigated properly.
On Nov. 16, 1989, Salvadoran soldiers invaded the Central American University campus in San Salvador and killed then-chancellor Ignacio Ellacuria and four other Spanish priests: Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Amando Lopez and Juan Ramon Moreno, along with Salvadoran Jesuit Joaquin Lopez.
Also slain were a cook and her 16-year-old daughter.
Only two of the 14 members of the Salvadoran military who stood trial in September 1991 for the murders were found guilty. Though sentenced to 30 years in prison, they were released thanks to the 1993 amnesty. EFE