A San Salvador judge has found three police officers guilty of the January 2019 killing of Camila Díaz Córdova, a transgender woman, and sentenced each to 20 years in prison.
During the court case, the judge heard three police officers, responding to a public disorder complaint, picked up Díaz Córdova, 29, and put her into a police vehicle.
Prosecutors said that the officers then brutally assaulted her and threw her out of the moving vehicle and she died of her injuries on February 3 in Hospital.
The judge held that the evidence, including the vehicle’s GPS tracking, the location where Díaz Córdova was found, and Díaz Córdova’s autopsy report established the officers’ criminal liability.
“We are satisfied because we believe that Camila was served justice,” the prosecutor in the case, Gisela Meléndez, told the press.
José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch said the landmark ruling is much needed in a country where LGBT Salvadorans and their families rarely see justice for violent crimes.
“The outcome of Camila’s case sends a powerful message to Salvadoran society that anti-LGBT violence will not be tolerated,” Vivanco said.
Between October 2019 and April 2020 alone, at least seven trans women and two gay men were murdered in El Salvador, with details in the cases suggesting that the killers were motivated by hatred based on the victims’ gender identity or sexual orientation.
Though Díaz Córdova’s case did not ultimately include hate crimes charges, it is the first that has resulted in a conviction for the homicide of the transgender person.
“LGBT people have a right to live in a country that respects and protects their basic right to life,” Vivanco said.
“The justice system should ensure that those responsible for anti-LGBT violence are held accountable, including by pursuing hate crimes charges where appropriate.”