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Relatives sit next to the remains of 11 victims of the El Mozote massacre during a ceremony at the Supreme Court of Justice in San Salvador, El Salvador May 20, 2016.

San Salvadoro, October 2, 2016: A judge in El Salvador has ordered prosecutors to reopen a probe into one of the most notorious massacres in recent history: the army’s slaying of hundreds of people in the village of El Mozote.

Human rights advocate Ovidio Mauricio told The Associated Press on Saturday that Judge Jorge Guzman Urquilla had accepted the request filed by his organization and two other groups. The decision was based on a July ruling by the country’s Supreme Court that overturned a law granting amnesty for war crimes during El Salvador’s 1979-1992 civil war.


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A postwar U.N. truth commission concluded that the army massacred at least 500 people in El Mozote and surrounding villages in three days in December 1981. Victims’ rights advocates put the number closer to 1,000. Overall, at least 75,000 people died in the small nation’s civil war.

Researchers say the El Mozote villagers were largely evangelical Christians who had tried to remain neutral in the conflict. Because of that, they decided not to flee when rebel sympathizers nearby ran away from an army advance. But soldiers suspected them of rebel sympathies in any case.

Many of the bodies were dumped in the interior of a small church and burned. Former government human rights prosecutor David Morales said that in one grave alone, forensic experts found “136 skeletons of girls and boys, with an average age of 6 years.”

The army _ and the U.S. government that had trained the Atlacatl battalion involved in the killings _ initially denied any massacre had taken place.

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Following the new ruling, Morales sent a tweet saying that “the forensic evidence of the El Mozote massacre is overwhelming,” and added, “The use of amnesty was always unconstitutional.”

The Supreme Court ruling overturning the amnesty has been welcomed by national and international human rights groups, but it has upset both former military men and the current government, which grew out of the rebel Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front. Both sides fear their allies could face prosecution and say the decision could lead to social conflicts.

The move to reopen the El Mozote probe was led by Mauricio’s Dr. Maria Julia Hernandez Legal Defense agency, the Center for Justice and International Law and the Association to Promote Human Rights of El Mozote.

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The U.N. truth commission report put responsibility for the massacre on Col. Domingo Monterrosa, commander of the Atlacatl battalion, operations chief Col. Armando Azmitia and six other officers. Monterrosa and Azmitia died when a bomb went off in their helicopter in 1984.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that El Salvador should pay reparations for the victims and the government in 2012 accepted the court ruling and apologized for the massacre.(VOA)


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Rihanna was summoned from her seat to accept the honour, with the Prime Minister.

Singer Rihanna was honoured by Prime Minister Mia Mottley at an event which marked Barbados's new status as a republic, which was attended by Prince Charles. Addressing the pop star by her real name, the PM said: "Robyn Rihanna Fenty tomorrow morning shall have conferred upon her the order of national hero of Barbados."

Rihanna was then summoned from her seat to accept the honor, with the Prime Minister managing to rouse a laugh from the singer when she referenced her 2012 hit 'Diamonds', reports femalefirst.co.uk. She added: "On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we therefore present to you, the designee, for the national hero of Barbados." "And to accept on behalf of a grateful nation - you can come my dear - ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty, may you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation." Rihanna, who was born in the St Michael parish of Barbados, found fame in 2005 after being spotted by a record producer and has since gone on to become one of the most successful female artists of all time with sales of over 250 million and recently reached billionaire status through her Fenty beauty brand.

The Prime Minister continued in her speech: "Commanding the imagination of the world through the pursuit of excellence, her creativity, her discipline, and above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth. "Having satisfied that, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty has given service to Barbados which has been exemplified by visionary and pioneering leadership, extraordinary achievement and the attaining of the highest excellence to the Government of Barbados." It comes after a historic move for Barbados, which has become a republic after almost 400 years and welcomes its first president, Sandra Mason, after removing Queen Elizabeth as head of state. (IANS/ MBI)


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