SAN SALVADOR – A Salvadoran court let nine people out on bail who have been jailed since July 2 on “terrorism” charges, a judicial official said July 27.
On July 2, police arrested 13 people in Suchitoto, north of San Salvador, during clashes involving campesinos and the police that coincided with the arrival of rightist President Tony Saca, who chose the city as the venue for a new “decentralization” policy that activists suspect is aimed at privatization of the water system.
Four of those arrested, among them journalist María Haydee Chicas, were released July 23 by order of the same court, which, according to the reports, will proceed with the trial of all the accused (NT, July 27).
All 13 defendants must appear before the courts every two weeks and are prohibited from changing their place of residence or leaving the country until the legal process against them is concluded. Under El Salvador’s new anti-terrorism law, the Suchitoto defendants could be sentenced to anywhere from 40 to 70 years in prison if they are convicted.
The case has sparked numerous reactions from social organizations and controversy in political circles that see the incidents as completely unrelated to the crime for which the defendants are being tried.