updated 2/22/2007 12:57:53 PM ET 2007-02-22T17:57:53

Four Guatemalan men were arrested Thursday in connection with the killing of three Central American Parliament members, including the son of the alleged founder of El Salvador’s death squads.

The assailants repeatedly shot Eduardo D’Abuisson, son of El Salvador’s late right-wing leader Roberto D’Abuisson, two other Salvadoran officials and their driver before setting them on fire while they were still alive, officials said. Their charred bodies were found Monday along a road about 20 miles southeast of Guatemala City.

Radio Sonora reported the suspects are two high-ranking police officials and two police investigators. All four, the radio said, were assigned to a special unit to combat youth gangs.

On Thursday, police spokeswoman Maria Jose Fernandez told The Associated Press four suspects were being held, but declined to confirm if they were members of the police department or give any details until officials hold a press conference later in the day.

The three slain politicians—D’Abuisson, William Pichinte and Ramon Gonzalez—represented El Salvador at the Central American Parliament, which is based in Guatemala City and has 132 members representing five of the seven Central American nations. They were all members of El Salvador’s ruling party, ARENA.

Officials, including El Salvador’s president, said they suspect the slayings were politically motivated. Investigators have not given a motive.

President Tony Saca and other leading members of the ARENA party received D’Abuisson’s body Wednesday. D’Abuisson, whose father founded ARENA, was to be buried Thursday.

“This is one of the saddest days in the history of the ARENA party, and one of the saddest days in the history of El Salvador,” said Saca, who is to meet with President Bush next week. Saca said the FBI has been asked for help in the investigation.

Victim related to alleged hit squad founder
D’Abuisson, 32, was serving his first term in public office and was not viewed as a controversial figure.

His late father was embroiled in scandals as the alleged founder of El Salvador’s death squads during its civil war from 1980-92. The death squads were responsible for the kidnap, torture, and murder of tens of thousands of civilians.

His father, who died of throat cancer in 1992, was accused by a U.N. truth commission of having ordered the killing of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, but an amnesty granted at the end of the war prevented him from going to trial.

Pichinte, 49, was a ruling party federal legislator before being elected to the Central American Parliament. The owner of a successful hat factory, his hats were a trademark of ARENA supporters at party rallies.

Gonzalez, 57, was a ruling party founder and worked closely with the elder D’Abuisson in organizing rallies.

The escorts had followed the men—who were traveling in three cars—from the Salvadoran border to the capital’s edge, where the vehicles took different roads into the city, officials said. They were believed to have been kidnapped and then taken to a farm to be executed.

Guatemalan politician Leonel Sisniega said the farm “was a common meeting spot for Guatemalan anti-Communists who sympathized with Roberto D’Abuisson.”

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