Salvadoran police face trial for murder of trans woman deported from U.S.

Camila Diaz, a 29-year-old transgender woman who fled from El Salvador following repeated threats on her life from a gang, was killed in early February.
Image: Transgender woman Leticia shows a photograph of Camila Diaz, another transgender woman she met while migrating to the U.S. where they both turned themselves in to U.S. immigration authorities and were eventually deported
Transgender woman Leticia shows a photograph of Camila Diaz, another transgender woman she met while migrating to the U.S. where they both turned themselves in to U.S. immigration authorities and were eventually deported, Feb. 12, 2020.Salvador Melendez / AP file
By Reuters

SAN SALVADOR - Three police officers in El Salvador will be tried for the murder of a transgender woman who was deported from the United States two years ago after failing to prove her life was at risk in the violent Central American country.

The unidentified police officers face prison sentences of up to 30 years. They all deny the charges.

Camila Diaz, a 29-year-old sex worker who fled from El Salvador following repeated threats on her life from a gang, was killed in early February after she was kidnapped and beaten.

Three former police officers are taken to a hearing as they face charges for aggravated homicide and the kidnapping of Camila Diaz Cordova, a transgender woman under their custody who had been deported from the U.S. despite requesting asylum and claiming that her life was at risk, in San Salvador, El Salvador March 11, 2020.Jose Cabezas / Reuters

Judge Sidney Blanco said in court proceeding on Wednesday that sufficient evidence existed to implicate the police officers for the crime of aggravated homicide.

El Salvador's attorney general's office has said that on Jan. 31 the accused officers arrested Diaz for supposedly creating a public nuisance and then forced her into a police vehicle.

Once in the vehicle, she was severely beaten and then thrown out onto a highway, according to prosecutors.

Diaz died of her injuries in hospital three days later.

She had turned herself over to U.S. immigration agents in August 2017 in a bid to apply for asylum protections, arguing that she had received death threats from members of Barrio 18, one of El Salvador's most violent street gangs.

But she was deported in November 2017 after her asylum request was rejected, and she returned to sex work in San Salvador.

Violence against transgender women in El Salvador has been a problem for years.

More than 600 transgender women were murdered between 1993 and 2020, according to one human rights group.

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