The boyfriend of a murdered Salvadoran journalist has been found guilty of femicide and given the maximum 50-year prison sentence on Friday, a rare conviction in the deadly gender violence that often goes unpunished in the Central American nation.
Mario Huezo was convicted by a judge of killing Karla Turcios, with whom he lived and had a child with, after a nine-day trial in a court that hears gender violence cases in San Salvador.
The murder of Turcios in 2018 made headlines and prompted the government to declare a national emergency against femicide – the killing of a woman by a man because of her gender.
El Salvador, a country of 6 million people, has one of the world’s highest rates of femicide, according to the United Nations.
About 80% of all reported femicides go unpunished in El Salvador, according to the UN.
“This [conviction] is to make it clear that in this country it will not be allowed to continue killing women because of their condition of being a woman,” the lead state prosecutor, Graciela Sagastume, told the media outside the courtroom.
El Salvador passed a law in 2012 to define and punish femicide as a specific crime with a longer sentence than murder, with prison terms for convicted offenders of 20 to 50 years.
The law requires prosecutors to prove the motive for a woman’s murder was hatred or contempt based on gender.
Turcios, 33, whose beaten body was found dumped on a roadside, became a household name and symbol of the violence women face in El Salvador that often goes unpunished.
A woman in El Salvador was murdered on average every three days in 2019, and prosecutors opened investigations into 148 cases of femicides last year, official figures show.
“The conviction sends a message of intolerance toward forms of violence against women,” Silvia Juárez, a women’s rights activist in El Salvador, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“It sends a message to the rest of the population.”
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