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Almudena Bernabeu gives a deposition in the Romero case in El Salvador

Almudena Bernabéu with members of the Office of the Prosecutor of El Salvador

The Guernica Centre for International Justice recently traveled to El Salvador as part of its on-going work supporting local partners in their search for justice, truth, and accountability for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the twelve-year civil war. While in El Salvador, Almudena Bernabeu, the executive director of The Guernica Centre, gave a deposition in the Romero case at the Juzgado Cuarto de Instrucción before Judge Rigoberta Chicas. Bernabeu previously worked on the U.S. lawsuit brought by the Center for Justice and Accountability against Captain Álvaro Saravia for his involvement in the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

After concluding the judicial hearing, Almudena Bernabeu stated: “It is a true honor and a responsibility to be the person that provides testimony that accounts for the effort of a committed legal team in the US civil case related to the assassination of Bishop Romero. It was always an aspiration of all of us working on this case to have the necessary impact in El Salvador”.

“We never lost perspective of the fact that this case had to impact the Salvadoran reality and promote justice in that country,” said Bernabeu. “Being consequent with Monsignor Romero’s life, our actions are directed to benefit the people of El Salvador”.

“We responded favorably to the request to testify that was formulated by the Office of the Prosecutor, as we support their nascent effort to combat impunity. We will remain vigilant and promote that the prosecuting authority fulfills its duties and discharges its mandate in a manner that is consequent with the rights of victims,” concluded Bernabeu.

Almudena Bernabéu and Michael Reed-Hurtado during the press conference in El Salvador

In addition to recent activities in El Salvador, the Centre is also concentrating its efforts on the upcoming trial to be held in Spain against Inocente Orlando Montano for his role as a decision maker behind the 1989 killing in San Salvador of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter. The Spanish National Court in Madrid has set the trial for June and July 2020. The Guernica Centre and the Spanish Pro Human Rights Association (APDHE) will be acting on behalf of victims in Spanish case as private accuser or prosecutor.

The case has the potential to reopen the discussion in Spain about the necessity of a comprehensive universal jurisdiction law. The trial is also occurring at a time when Salvadoran civil society is struggling to push forward investigations and prosecutions in El Salvador following the repeal of the Amnesty Law in 2016. Conservative sectors in El Salvador have also threatened to enact a new amnesty law. The trial against Montano in Spain not only reiterates the need for truth, justice, and accountability for crimes committed during the civil war, but also provides hope and reinvigorates Salvadoran civil society at a moment when strategic dialogues on justice processes are open for discussion in the state.

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