They demand justice for the crime of four Dutch journalists in 1982

Koos Jacobus Andries Koster, Jan Cornelius Kuiper Jop, Hans Lodewijk ter Laag y Johannes Jan, Willemsen were the murdered journalists working on a report for the Catholic station IKON TV. Photo: courtesy of Fundación Comunicándonos.
By Alberto Barrera

The Savior – The 17 March 1982 four Dutch journalists traveled to Chalatenango, north of El Salvador, to interview civilians in an area dominated by leftist guerrillas, but they did not arrive at the appointment they were shot by members of an army battalion.

More of 39 years later justice is still being demanded. The process is open and  family, colleagues and the government of their country insist that the guilty whose names and ranks are in a court of Dulce Nombre de María that is following the case of the crime that occurred in a wild area of ​​the town of Santa Rita be punished.

relatives and journalists visited the place on 28 October in which the murder was committed along with four other rebels and two civilian guides. Photo: Courtesy.

"We hope that justice will be served soon", the ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands told the press, Christine Pirenne who together with a delegation from the Netherlands, relatives and journalists visited the place on 28 October in which the murder was committed along with four other rebels and two civilian guides.

Koos Jacobus Andries Koster, Jan Cornelius Kuiper Jop, Hans Lodewijk ter Laag and Johannes Jan Willemsen were the murdered journalists working on a report for the Catholic station IKON TV.

Families bring flowers to the murder site 4 dutch journalists. Photo: Courtesy.

The Comunicándonos Foundation and the Salvadoran Association for Human Rights (ASDEHU) they said  in a statement that they made a guided visit to the place where the team of murdered journalists were looking for the civilian population that inhabited that area of ​​the country that had survived the “scorched earth” operations carried out by the army.

The four were arrested and interrogated on 11 March 1982 by agents of the Treasury Police who were responsible for persecuting opponents or critics of the government. Local newspapers published a photo of them leaving the security corps barracks that was abolished with the peace accords signed in January 1992 and that ended the civil war of 12 years.

Place where Dutch journalists lost their lives. Photo: Courtesy.

"The 4 journalists were even more persecuted and intimidated to the point of breaking into his hotel room (Alameda) from the Salvadoran capital ", added the statement.

And it's true about the chase. At that time the foreign press had great cohesion and some alerted the Dutch, and especial a Koos Koster, to give up the plan to visit the area, but they decided to travel to the place to fall into the ambush that shocked the world.

Communicators visit the place with guides where the team of murdered journalists was looking for the civilian population that inhabited that area of ​​the country that had survived the "scorched earth" operations carried out by the army.. Photo: Courtesy.

The Truth Commission formed by the UN to investigate the worst atrocities committed by the parties to the conflict concluded in 1993 that the ambush was organized and executed by soldiers and officers by order of Colonel Mario Reyes Mena, Commander of the Fourth Infantry Brigade in El Paraíso, from the department of Chalatenango,  but immediately an amnesty law was decreed that avoided the trial of the guilty.

That amnesty law was repealed in 2016 by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice and opened the doors to initiate legal proceedings for killings and crimes such as that of the four Dutch journalists.

Video: Courtesy of Fundación Comunicándonos.

In march 2018 Lawyers representing the victims' relatives sued the perpetrators and intellectuals before the Public Prosecutor's Office, and in September of that year the documentary "In Cold Blood" was released on the Dutch television program Zembla, revealing data on the crime and locating the old boss. military residing in the United States.

Reyes Mena resides in Virginia after 1984 was appointed Military Attaché of El Salvador in the United States. Two Dutch reporters who were questioning him were ordered to let himself be asked questions about a crime that had already been investigated. "You are part of the scheme of the communists who want revenge", he told them in the documentary In Cold Blood.

The 16 last July Comunicándonos and ASDEHU filed a criminal complaint before the court of justice against 25 Salvadoran soldiers and officers, and Colonel Reyes Mena was accused of leading the ambush. 

Communicating and ASDEHU demanded "an agile and transparent trial, that aims to find truth and justice for the relatives of the Dutch journalists who have waited for 39 years of impunity”.