This 1982 ANP photo shows crosses commemorating four Dutch journalists, murdered in El Salvador, and 40,000 Salvadoreans killed by CIA-supported death squads. The photo was taken in front of the United States consulate in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:
Brain behind murder of IKON journalists tracked down
The editors of the Zembla television program have tracked down the colonel who in El Salvador in 1982 ordered to murder four Dutch journalists of the IKON [Christian broadcasting organisation]. The now 79-year-old Mario Reyes Mena lives in the United States and can still be prosecuted.
In El Salvador, a bloody civil war raged between 1980 and 1992 between a US-backed right-wing government and left-wing guerrilla groups. In March 1982, a team from the TV program Kenmerk [Feature] was there for a report. When the journalists tried to enter guerrilla territory, they were met by soldiers of the government army and shot dead.
A United Nations truth commission concluded in 1993 that Reyes Mena was responsible for the murder and ambush in which Koos Koster, Jan Kuiper, Joop Willemsen and Hans ter Laag had been lured. That same year, an amnesty law was passed in El Salvador, which meant he could not be prosecuted in that country. Reyes Mena has not lived in El Salvador for years.
Zembla found him, but Reyes Mena did not want to let the reportage makers in. “The case has already been investigated, I have never been charged, you are part of a communist plot to take revenge”, he said in the short interview that can be seen in tonight’s broadcast (NPO 2, 8.55 pm).
Zembla also spoke with a former United States military adviser in El Salvador, Bruce Hazelwood. Secret documents are said to show that Reyes Mena told Hazelwood in advance that he would have the journalists murdered.
An e-mail exchange between Hazelwood and a fellow veteran confirms that, according to Zembla. Hazelwood writes about the day of the murder that Reyes Mena has followed his recommendation not to let the bodies disappear, other than earlier advice: “That evening my conversations with Mena were very frank and he followed my recommendations very differently from his previous actions.”
The Salvadoran amnesty law that offered protection to Reyes Mena was canceled in 2016. This means that prosecution of perpetrators of crimes during the civil war has become possible.
Gert Kuiper, the brother of the murdered Jan Kuiper, filed a complaint against the colonel in El Salvador at the beginning of this year. The Dutch ambassador in El Salvador supports this declaration. What has happened with it is not known.
See also here.