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Rights groups file lawsuit against ex-El Salvador president in Spain

[JURIST] The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) [advocacy website] and the Asociacion Pro Derechos Humanos de España (APDHE) [advocacy website, in Spanish] filed suit [complaint; CJA press release] Thursday in Spain's National Court [official website, in Spanish] against Alfredo Cristiani [profile], the former president of El Salvador. The groups claim that Cristiani, along with 14 others, committed crimes against humanity, citing a 1989 incident [UN Truth Commission report, PDF] in which six Jesuit priests and their housekeeper and her daughter were killed. Cristiani is accused of being an accomplice to the crime through his role as commander-in-chief. AP has more. El Faro has local coverage, in Spanish.

The organizations are filing the suit under the principle of universal jurisdiction [Princeton backgrounder, PDF], on the basis of which Spain's National Court issued an arrest warrant for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet [JURIST news archive] in 1998. El Salvador passed a law in 1993 granting amnesty [JURIST report] to many individuals involved in a civil war from 1980 through 1992. Salvadoran Jesuits were accused by the government of siding with guerrilla fighters during the war.

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