Gang Members Sentenced in El Salvador for Burning Microbus with Passengers
By Dialogo November 14, 2011
A Salvadoran court handed down a sentence of 66 years in prison for two gang members found guilty of killing 20 people who were traveling in a passenger vehicle to which they set fire in June 2010, the press office of the courts announced.
“Specialized Trial Court ‘B’ sentenced Juan Antonio Borja Alvarado and Ever Alexis Martínez Méndez to 66 years and six months in prison” for aggravated homicide with multiple victims, the capital’s Judicial Center specified in a statement.
In the same case, which provoked an emotional reaction across the country, the court sentenced Rafael Antonio García to three years in prison for “aiding and abetting,” because he was the one who “hid the weapons with which the offenses were committed,” according to the announcement.
The fatal attack on the passenger microbus occurred on June 20, 2010, in the Roma neighborhood of the municipality of Mejicanos, on the northern outskirts of San Salvador. Seventeen of the victims burned to death there, and three others died later in hospitals due to the severity of their injuries.
The Judicial Center specified that “witness testimony,” which included accounts by police officers who rescued some of the victims, was the basis for convicting the defendants.
In addition, the court found credible the testimony of a witness granted anonymity, identified with the code name “Andrea,” who affirmed that it was the defendant Ever Alexis Martínez, a member of Mara 18, who planned and executed the burning of the microbus with people inside, as a response to the death of one of his fellow gang members at the hands of a rival gang.
“The defendants planned the act at the deceased man’s wake the day before, since they knew that a fare collector on Route 47 was a member of Mara Salvatrucha,” the statement by the courts indicated.
On the basis of witness testimony and other evidence, the court found that the victims were “burned to death.”