Law School students play key role in "Jesuits Massacre" indictments

Former members of the El Salvadoran military, including several members of the High Command, were recently indicted their roles in the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests and two women during El Salvador’s civil war — thanks in good part to work by students in the Yale Law School’s Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic.

The killing of the priests, who had been outspoken critics of the country’s military dictatorship, was believed to have been planned at the highest level of the Salvadoran Armed forces. The incident has long been known as the “Jesuits Massacre.”

In reaching his decision, Judge Eloy Velasco relied heavily on a legal brief drafted by Lowenstein Clinic students on the doctrine of command responsibility, which states that commanders can be charged with the crimes of their subordinates if certain conditions are met.

“… [O]nly those that directly participated and the commander who directly oversaw the battalion that carried out the murders had ever been charged before,” said law student Jayme Herschkopf, who drafted the document with Jay Butler and Eva Rigamonti. “In other words, justice was never sought against those from whom the murder plot originated, who put the pieces in motion for it to be carried out, and who instigated a massive cover-up so that the crime would not be discovered.”

You can read the story on the Yale Law School website.

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