Twenty-four bodies found in ex-policeman’s garden in El Salvador

Discovery highlights issue of femicide and violence against women in Central America

Forensic scientists at work at the home of former police officer Hugo Ernesto Osorio Chavez, the main suspect of killing 24 people in Chalchuapa, El Salvador. Photograph: Marvin Recinos/AFP via Getty

Forensic scientists at work at the home of former police officer Hugo Ernesto Osorio Chavez, the main suspect of killing 24 people in Chalchuapa, El Salvador. Photograph: Marvin Recinos/AFP via Getty

 

El Salvador officials said on Thursday they were excavating a clandestine cemetery discovered at the house of a former police officer which is thought to contain as many as 40 bodies, most of them believed to be women.

Exhuming the bodies could take another month, authorities said. The remains of at least 24 people had been recovered so far at the house in the municipality of Chalchuapa, about 78km northwest of the capital San Salvador.

At least 10 people are facing charges, according to the office of the attorney general, including a former police officer, Hugo Ernesto Osorio Chavez, whose home is on the same site as the clandestine cemetery.

Neither Osorio nor his lawyer could immediately be reached for comment.

Dozens of people who believed their missing relatives could be among the bodies gathered outside the house, which was guarded by police.

The discovery has brought the issue of femicides into focus in the Central American country of 6.7 million, which recorded 70 killings of women last year. There were 111 in 2019, police data showed.

Violence against women in Latin America worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, according to aid groups.

In Mexico this week, a 72-year-old man was arrested as a suspected serial killer of women, local media reported. The remains of several people were found at his home in the state of Mexico during an investigation into the death of a 36-year-old woman. – Reuters