Brining those responsible for the 1989 massacre to justice has been very difficult. Nevertheless, several human rights groups filed a lawsuit on Thursday against several Salvadorans including former president Alfredo Cristiani. "We hope this case helps to reawaken the memory and the conscience of El Salvador's people," said the lawyer of one of the petitioners who accused Cristiani of orchestrating a government cover up of the massacre.
Most of the murdered priests were Spaniards though that country’s judicial system was chosen for its precedence in international law:
The case was taken to Spain's National Court, because of its involvement in other high-profile human rights cases.Image- daylife.com (“The bodies of killed Jesuit priests are seen in this Nov. 16, 1989, file photo in El Salvador.”)
The same Spanish court issued an arrest warrant for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, while he was in a London hospital. For the rest of his life he fought legal battles -- first in England and later in Chile -- to avoid convictions.
The Spanish court has also taken on human rights cases from other countries, including Argentina and Guatemala, testing a relatively new international legal principle known as Universal Jurisdiction.
It contends that if justice for human rights abuses is not served in the country where the crime occurred, then a court in another country can intervene.
Sources- The Latin Americanist, Tim’s El Salvador Blog, UPI, IHT, CNN