Monday, March 07, 2005

PDDH initial report on Lutheran University slaying

The Procuradora para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (PDDH), El Salvador's Human Rights Ombudsman, issued an initial report on the slaying of the watchman of the Salvadoran Lutheran University and subsequent police investigation. The report is highly critical of the police and prosecutors' investigation of the crime.

Earlier I noted the reports that two suspects had been arrested and the stolen computers and other equipment recovered. When brought before a court, however, the charges were lowered to possession of stolen goods because of insufficient evidence to tie the suspects to the robbery or murder. The court noted a large number of unanswered questions and chastised the police for relying only on a confidential informant.

Some of the conclusions of the PDDH report include:

  • It is highly probable that the murder and robbery of the university were intended to create terror in the Lutheran religious and academic communities.

  • The PDDH noted that the Lutheran Church had been characterized since the civil war as an institution which denounced injustice and the violation of human rights. As a result of this activity, it has been a persecuted church.

  • The crimes appear to have been committed by a well-organized criminal group with strong logistical and operational capacity, and the crimes showed evidence of being well-planned and smoothly executed.

  • The initial police investigation was filled with negligence, deficiencies and irregularities.

  • The police need to re-examine their assumption that the motive was "common robbery."

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