Justice for the Murder of Katya Miranda

Twelve years after nine-year old Katya Miranda was kidnapped, raped and murdered, a Salvadoran court finally convicted her grandfather, Carlos Miranda, and five of his employees of kidnapping. The court sentenced Carlos Miranda to 13 years in prison and ordered him to pay $100,000 to Hilda Jimez, Katya’s mother. The court sentenced the others to 8 years in prison and ordered each of them to pay $20,000 to Katya’s mother.

The night of April 4, 1999, Katya and her sister were staying at her paternal grandfather’s beach house in San Luis la Herradura, La Paz. Sometime during the night, she was kidnapped, raped and murdered. Though her grandfather and five of his employees were at the house at the time, the all claimed that they heard and saw nothing. The Attorney General’s Office arrested Carlos and Edwin Miranda, Katya’s grandfather and father, in January of 2000, but the court acquitted them of murder later that year. Shortly thereafter, the Supreme Court ordered the legal process against the Mirandas closed.

The Attorney General’s Office reopened the case in 2003, but did not make any progress until 2009 when they again arrested Carlos Miranda and six others. Because the court had tried Miranda and others for murder in 2000, they could not be tried again. Instead, prosecutors charged them on kidnapping and other related charges, for which they were convicted.

In the years since the murder, the case of Katya Miranda has become a symbol of the culture of impunity in El Salvador. Carlos Miranda was a prominent attorney in the area, and his son Edwin led the military battalion that provided security to the President of El Salvador. Carlos’ other son Godofredo Miranda was a sub-director for the department of criminal investigations in the Civil National Police. At the time, many in El Salvador believed that the Attorney General’s office and court did not convict Carlos and Edwin Miranda because of their political connections.

Since the Supreme Court closed the case in 2001, Katya’s mother and human rights attorneys have pressured the Attorney General’s office to reopen the case and ensure justice. It took twelve years, but finally there is some justice for the death of Katya Miranda.

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