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Salvadoran Court Analyzes Case of Dutch Man Killed in Civil War

  • Dutch journalists Koos Koster, Jan Kuiper, Joop Willemse, and Hans ter Laag, El Salvador.

    Dutch journalists Koos Koster, Jan Kuiper, Joop Willemse, and Hans ter Laag, El Salvador. | Photo: Twitter/ @jahootsen

Published 18 March 2022

Hans ter Laag was part of a group of TV journalists who were killed by U.S.-trained death squads in 1982.

On Friday, a Chalatenango-based court will hold a hearing in the case of the Dutch journalist Hans ter Laag, who was assassinated by the Salvadoran military under the orders of Colonel Mario Reyes in 1982.


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His sister Sonja will be present during this judicial action, according to human rights lawyer Pedro Cruz, who hopes she can convey to the judges "all the family suffering for her brother's murder and what they expect from the Salvadoran authorities."

In 1982, Hans traveled to San Salvador with his colleagues Koos Koster, Jan Kuipier, and Johannes Willemsen to prepare a television report on the situation in the capital city and some areas controlled by the Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMLN).

Following Reyes’ orders, members of the Atonal Elite Battalion killed these journalists on March 17 of that year. In 1993, the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador stated that officers involved in this crime hindered the judicial investigations on it.

"Forty years after the murder, I have the impression that Salvadoran political and military authorities still do not recognize this crime," lamented Gert Kuipier, Jan’s brother, and stressed that the best compensation for the victims' relatives will be to apprehend the culprits.

"Our request is not motivated by lust for revenge, but for justice," Sonja stated, adding that this case is an open wound for the whole of Dutch society.

Even before the civil war "began" with the 1982 FMLN military offensive, successive right-wing governments waged a dirty war against progressive political and social organizations.  From 1979 to 1992, over 75,000 people were killed by the Salvadoran army and its paramilitary groups. Among the victims were approximately 8,000 disappeared persons.

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