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El Salvador Detains Officer in Connection With 1983 Massacre

September 20, 1987|United Press International

SAN SALVADOR — The government of El Salvador ordered the detention of Col. Elmer Gonzalez Araujo on Saturday and accused him of ordering the 1983 murders of 74 peasants, officials said.

The detention order came after more than four years of legal battling by the National Indigenous Assn., an Indian peasant group known by the initials ANI.

ANI director Adrian Esquina Lixco said that his group considers the colonel "the man who gave the order to carry out the slaughter of our brothers."

Gonzalez, in a statement, denied the charges and said he would challenge the detention order in court.

"Considering it part of my military discipline and obedience, and acting upon the laws of the republic, I can do nothing else than leave my case in the hands of the Salvadoran justice system--given that my conscience is clear," the statement said.

Justice officials said they ordered the capture of Gonzalez "based on declarations from witnesses," who described the attack on Feb. 22, 1983, in a remote village in Sonsonate province.

The reason for the massacre remains unclear. Gonzalez was the army's regional chief in the province when the villagers, all of whom belonged to the ANI, were killed.

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