Three police officers jailed for murder after throwing a trans woman out of a moving car to her death

Camila Díaz Córdova trans El Salvador

Three police officers have been jailed for murdering a trans woman in El Salvador, in the nation’s first-ever homicide conviction with a trans victim.

According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Camila Díaz Córdova, a 29-year-old trans woman, had fled El Salvador for the US after being subjected to death threats by a gang, but was deported two years ago as she could not provide enough proof that her life was in danger.

Díaz Córdova, a sex worker, was picked up by three police officers in January 2019 accused of creating a public nuisance.

The officers handcuffed her face-down and brutally assaulted her in their patrol car, before throwing her out of the moving vehicle. She was found by the side of the road, and died in hospital three days later.

The three police officers have each been handed 20-year prison sentences for her murder, and their convictions mark a huge victory for the queer community in El Salvador.

According to advocacy group COMCAVIS Trans, the country has seen 600 LGBT+ murders since 1993.

Government data shows that of the 109 LGBT+ murders between December 2014 and March 2017, only 12 went to trial, and none ended in convictions.

Cristian Gonzalez, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Reuters: “It’s a landmark case for the rights of transgender Salvadorians.

“It sends a strong signal that anti-trans and more generally anti-LGBT violence is not going to be tolerated in the country.”

Activists are disappointed, however, that despite 2015 hate crime legislation that covers gender identity, Díaz Córdova’s murder will not be classified as such.

Roberto Zapata of advocacy group AMATE El Salvador said: “It leaves a bad taste in our mouths that the prosecutor’s office wasn’t able to build the case as a hate crime.

“If the state had recognised the homicide as such, it would have sent a much stronger message.”

According to local media, the police officers plan to appeal the ruling.