January 16, 2010 / 9:10 PM / 9 years ago

El Salvador's Funes apologizes for civil war abuses

Supporters of the Farabundo Marti Liberation Front (FMLN) participate in the commemoration of the 18th anniversary of the end of the 1980-1992 civil war in San Salvador January 16, 2010. REUTERS/Luis Galdamez

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - El Salvador’s leftist president, Mauricio Funes, apologized on behalf of the state on Saturday for crimes committed by the former right-wing government in the country’s long and vicious civil war.

Funes, the first president from a party founded by Marxist guerrillas who fought in the 12-year conflict, said soldiers and security forces had committed human rights crimes and abused their power.

“In the name of the state of El Salvador, I ask for pardon,” Funes said at an event marking the 18th anniversary of the end of the conflict, which left at least 75,000 people dead.

Funes did not mention crimes committed by leftist forces during the civil war, although members of his party at another event on Saturday acknowledged them.

A former television journalist who reported on the civil war but never fought in it, Funes last year ended two decades of rule by the conservative and pro-U.S. ARENA party.

Previous presidents from ARENA, which was founded by an army major closely associated with right-wing death squads in the civil war, have refused to apologize for the government’s role.

Funes has urged unity and reconciliation in El Salvador since taking office last June and has said he wants strong relations with Washington.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Peter Cooney

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