The first collective trial against suspected gang members has begun in El Salvador. Nearly 500 leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13) criminal group are accused of more than 37,000 crimes, including 500 murders, the Central American country's attorney general's office said. Between 2012 and 2022, the gangsters are said to have been involved in, among other things, protection rackets, disappearances and arms trafficking.
The trial is taking place virtually as the defendants are in different prisons. According to Attorney General Rodolfo Delgado, the verdict will be announced on Friday. “They have terrorized for decades, but they will pay for every life lost, for every family torn apart,” Delgado wrote on the online platform X, formerly Twitter.
El Salvador's parliament approved holding collective trials against gang members in July. In particular, around 75,000 suspected gangsters who were arrested under the state of emergency that has been in effect for almost two years should be able to be sentenced more quickly. Organizations denounced human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment. Conservative President Nayib Bukele, who has taken a tough stance against the gangs, was re-elected for a second five-year term in last Sunday's presidential election.