Report No. 63 (2016) IACHR. Petition No. 860-05 (El Salvador)

CourtInter-American Comission of Human Rights
Petition Number860-05
Alleged VictimMiguel Ángel Aguirre Magaña
Report Number63
Respondent StateEl Salvador
Case TypeAdmissibility
Report No. 63/16

REPORT No. 63/16






Doc. 72

December 6, 2016

Original: Spanish

Approved by the Commission at its session No. 2070 held on December 6, 2016.
159th Regular Period of Sessions.

Cite as: IACHR, Report No. 63/16, Petition 860-05. Admissibility. Miguel Ángel Aguirre Magaña. El Salvador. December, 6 2016.

REPORT No. 63/16





DECEMBER 6, 2016


  1. On July 28, 2005, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter "the Inter-American Commission," "the Commission," or "the IACHR") received a petition initially lodged by the Human Rights Institute of the "José Simeón Cañas" Central American University (hereinafter also "the petitioners") on behalf of Mr. Miguel Ángel Aguirre Magaña1 (hereinafter "the petitioner" or "the alleged victim") against the Salvador State (hereinafter " El Salvador" or 'the State"). Mr. Aguirre Magaña argues that the State bears international responsibility for the alleged lack of diligent investigation and criminal prosecution of those responsible for an event in which he lost a leg, lost his hearing in his right ear, and suffered other serious injuries. Consequently, he argues that the State bears international responsibility for violation, to his detriment, of rights recognized at Articles 8 and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter the “American Convention” or “Convention”).

  2. Mr. Aguirre Magaña maintains that on November 13, 1993 he was traveling in a vehicle in which the driver was illegally carrying a fragmentation grenade, which exploded under the petitioner's seat, causing him grave and irreversible physical harm. Mr. Aguirre Magaña alleges that the investigation by the Civilian National Police and succesive judges handling the proceedings was negligent. Moreover, during the criminal proceedings, which dragged on for more than 11 years, several members of the Judiciary had allegedly committed acts of corruption and irregularities for the purpose of delaying judgment. As of the date this report was drafted, the State had still not presented its observations.

  3. Without prejudging the merits of the complaint, after analyzing the position of the petitioner and pursuant to the requirements set forth in Articles 46 and 47 of the American Convention on Human Rights, the Commission decides to declare the petition admissible for the purpose of examining the argument relating to the alleged violation of rights established in Article 8 (Right to a Fair Trial) and Article 25 (Right to Judicial Protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights, in conjunction with Article 1.1 of said Convention. The Commission has further decided to notify the parties of this decision, make it public, and include it in its annual report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States.


  1. The IACHR received the petition on July 28, 2005 and requested further information from the petitioner on June 14, 2010. On February 4, 2013, the IACHR transmitted the petition to the State, granting it two months to submit its observations, in accordance with Article 30.3 of its Rules of Procedure in force at that time. On May 15, 2013, the State requested an extension, which was granted on June 17, 2013. Subsequently, on August 18, 2004, the Commission reiterated its´ request to the State for information was repeated. No reply has so far been received.

  2. The petitioner transmitted additional information to the IACHR on the following dates: June 17, 2013; November 24, 2014; July 3, 2015; and January 26, 2016. Those communications were duly forwarded to the State.


A. Position of the petitioner

  1. The petitioner, who was a judicial officer at the time of the facts of the case, states that on November 13, 1993 he was on his way to a judicial proceeding together with another official and the Justice of the Peace of Villa Apaneca, the owner of the vehicle in which they were traveling. At some point on the way, on the road between Ahuachapán and Sonsonate, a grenade suddenly exploded inside the vehicle. According to the petitioner, at that point the driver got out of the vehicle with a caliber 12 shotgun in his hands, shouting that they had been attacked, while the other passenger with them ran off to tell the police what had happened.

  2. The petitioner states that at that moment none of those accompanying him had helped him, even though it was he who had received the blast from the detonation. He was helped only by third parties who happened to be present at the place where it happened. They took him to the “Francisco Menéndez” Hospital in Ahuachapán. From there, he was transferred to the Social Security Hospital in Santa Ana. The petitioner reports that, as a result of the explosion, they amputated his right leg above the knee; he lost all hearing definitively in his right ear; and suffered multiple injuries to other parts of his body.

  3. The petitioner claims that, according to expert reports by the Civilian National Police (hereinafter "PNC"), the explosion occurred inside the vehicle. However, according to the petitioner, the driver had invented the story that the grenade had been thrown from outside the vehicle and exploded when it landed inside it. Accordingly, the petitioner alleges that the auxiliary organs of the justice system, such as the Civilian National Police, conducted a deficient investigation into what had happened, in that they had not protected the scene of the crime, had not properly secured the evidence, and had not practiced due diligence in performing scientific tests to determine whether the explosive device had been inside the vehicle or thrown into it from outside. He also alleges corruption on the part of two forensic scientists involved in the case and unwarranted delay in the whole proceedings thereafter.

  4. He points out that the criminal proceedings began on November 14, 1993, when the Justice of the Peace of Villa Concepción de Ataco conducted the initial inquiries, and that they were then referred to the Criminal Court of Ahuachapán on November 15, 1993. On November 13, 1996, the Criminal Court Judge in Ahuachapán recused himself, because the alleged victim was working as an officer in that Court. The petitioner states that on April 20, 1998, the investigation was transferred to the Court of First Instance (Juzgado de Instrucción) in Ahuachapán, which handled the proceedings for the next several years. The petitioner complains that during the ensuing years the judges in charge of the investigations changed several times, in some cases recusing themselves from hearing the case; and that in the course of the proceedings there were several irregularities, including failure to move the case forward. He further alleges that some magistrates and higher court judges exerted pressure on the various judges in charge of the investigations with a view to protecting the accused, given that he was the Justice of the Peace in Villa Apaneca.

  5. Later on, the proceedings were referred to the Court of the Third Western Section (Cámara de la Tercera Sección de Occidente), which appointed the Second Justice of the Peace of Ahuachapán as substitute judge; however, he recused himself too. On June 18, 2002, this controversy then shifted to the Supreme Court of Justice, which, after 10 months, appointed the Judge of the First Instance Court in Atiquizaya to continue hearing the case.

  6. Mr. Aguirre Magaña states that on May 19, 2004, the Judge of the First Instance Court in Atiquizaya resolved to provisionally dismiss all charges against the only accused in the case, a decision that the petitioner attributes to an allegedly malfunctioning justice system.

  7. The petitioner points out that the prosecutor responsible for the investigation appealed the provisional dismissal of charges decision before the Court of the Third Western Section, which upheld the appealed decision in a judgment handed down on July 20, 2004. Mr. Aguirre Magaña indicates that that Court confirmed the provisional dismissal because it considered that there were not enough grounds to establish the responsibility of the alleged owner of the grenade, due to the fact that a proper investigation had not been carried out. Accordingly, the petitioner bases his claim before the IACHR on the fact that the...

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