SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — El Salvador's forensic institute on Thursday turned over to family members the remains of six of the more than 200 rural residents killed by soldiers in August 1982 El Calabozo massacre.
Juana de Jesús Bonilla Realegeño cried over the caskets of her parents, three sisters and a sister-in-law.
“Thank God we have come to recover the bones of our relatives,” she said.
The remains were exhumed late last year and will be buried in El Calabozo, where soldiers are accused of burning homes and killing mostly women, children and the elderly over several days during the country's civil war.
“It's hard for me to receive their bones, but it gives me strength and I have to be strong to demand justice,” she said. “They were massacred, it was a slaughter of innocent people.” Her sisters were aged 10, 14 and 18 when they were killed and the oldest was pregnant.
“They killed old people, women and children, burned houses, stole everything we had and threw the bodies in the river,” said María Berta Realegeño, another relative.
Former human rights prosecutor David Morales who represents the victims, pushed in 2016 for the reopening of the case. A general amnesty had blocked its investigation, but the Supreme Court declared the amnesty unconstitutional. He said the Supreme Court had ordered that the El Calabozo case be reopened and investigated.
A report from the United Nations Truth Commission after the war said “there exists sufficient evidence that on Aug. 22, 1982 soldiers of the Atlacatl Batallion deliberately killed more than 200 civilians, men, women and children it had captured without resistance.”