Saturday, May 17, 2008

El Salvador: Hector Ventura of the Suchitoto 14 Assassinated

On Friday May 2nd, Hector Antonio Ventura was assassinated in the community of Valle Verde, Suchitoto. Ventura was the youngest of the 14 political prisoners captured in Suchitoto on July 2nd, 2007.

According to preliminary reports, Ventura was stabbed to death. Another victim, who was with Ventura, was attacked but survived. Reports say that the assailants were at least two men, who entered the back room of the house where Ventura and his friend slept and attacked them.

According to a 1994 report by the Joint Group for the Investigation of Illegally Armed Groups with Political Motivations in El Salvador, a Peace Accords initiative in response to the reappearance of armed groups after 1992, there are three key elements that qualify a political murder. These elements are that the victim is seen as a member of the political opposition, that the murder is planned with the goal of killing the specific victim, and that the assailants are granted impunity by the State. Because Ventura was a recently freed political prisoner and because the attack was not a random incident but demonstrated prior planning, the murder suggests political motives.

Ventura was killed days after having agreed to speak at the Day Against Impunity, an event planned to take place this coming July 2nd in Suchitoto, on the anniversary of last years capture of the Suchitoto 14 by police.

Yesterday in a press conference, Salvadoran legal and community organizations demanded that the Attorney General and National Civilian Police begin an extensive investigation of the case, one that investigates not only the assailants but also the intellectual authors of the assassination. They also request that the Ombudsperson for Human Rights act to protect the lives of the witnesses and verify that the case is investigated thoroughly.

Ventura´s murder is one of a number of assassinations of political opposition leaders and activists in El Salvador in the last few years, and one in a recent series of murders of young people in historically government opposition communities in the Suchitoto area during the last two weeks.

Lorena Araujo Martinez, president of CRIPDES said yesterday: ¨These atrocious crimes demonstrate why we must demand a complete investigation of this and the other murders with possible political motivations. We ask the national and international community, as they have stood with the Suchitoto 14 throughout the last 10 months, to keep working in solidarity to achieve justice for the victims of these crimes.¨


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