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October 17 2011 | UNITED STATES


The case of Walter Sorto, young Salvadorean in the Texas death row

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Walter Alexander Sorto was born on August 10th 1977 in El Salvador. Since December 2003 he is in the Livingston death row in Texas, accused together with others of a double homicide. He was born and grew up in El Salvador. During his childhood he worked to support his family and was not able to attend school. Another reason for this was because of the war in his country. As many other people, when aged 17 only he left to the USA, through Mexico, on foot and horse riding. He worked for seven years as a building worker and then as part of a company of chemical products i


n Houston. He has three daughters. He writes his letters in an unclear Spanish and he is slowly learning English. Our correspondence with Walter started in 2006. We discovered little by little that along the years, Walter has developed friendships with people all around the world (Roma, Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Palermo, Switzerland, Puerto Rico, Texas) and of all kinds (christians, quakers, budhists, workers, teachers, young and elderly).

In one of his first letters he wrote:
I have been detained for a crime I have not committed and I have been punished by something I have not done…for not having been able to understand English, the Attorney General of the Police accused me of a homicide for which they did not know who was responsible for. The person who has committed this homicide has already confessed he was guilty, but nonetheless they do not let me free. I come from a poor family, I did not have money to pay a lawyer, so that I could demonstrate the Attorney General my innocence!...Sometimes I feel so lonely and depressed that I think the only thing I have is to pray God, so that I get the strength to continue with life. I have faith in God and know that He will help me join my family again!

In his letters he wrote:
‘Thank God my daughters were able to visit me. I was so happy. They are grown up now. I had a wonderful birthday because I spent the whole day with my daughters. It was a long time since I didn’t see them all the three together. For the moment they are fine and attend school.’

Two years ago he was informed about the death of his grandmother in El Salvador:
‘Today I will tell you something that is killing me, my Friend. I always told you about my grandmother, who was the one who brought me up, and who is actually like a mother for me. I have received a letter from my sister Carmen from El Salvador saying that she died. My friend, I am becoming crazy for this strong news because I was waiting  for her to visit me and I have not been able to see her for the last time. This has been a really hard thing  for me, I am not able to recover from this even if I try to take things with much calm to face this situation, which is not at all easy. I only ask God to give me strength to carry on.´

He also wrote to us about the terrible life in the death row:
‘On a different subject, here things are difficult, my friend. They have denied the petition on the poison they inject us when they execute someone. Here they have started giving many dates. Now there are some 14 persons with the date fixed and during the year they will give many others. From what I see things are getting more difficult by the day for us who live here.’

And he asks for help:
I would like to know about the help you have told me in your letters. Could you get the help you told me about? I really need all possible help for my situation!”

‘My friend, I believe and trust that you will find a way to help me; nonetheless, there are times that I cannot help being depressed. I see people who are taken to be executed and I hope with all my heart that I will never be the next one to be taken. Please, let me know with clarity what can you do to save my life.’

And in another letter:
‘Yes, my friend, the cause of  my depression is because I don’t know what will happen with my case. I mean, it is difficult to accept that they could execute me for something I have not committed. I don’t want to die, my friend. No, I don’t want to die knowing that, in the depths of my heart, I am innocent of this crime. This is the reason why your help and the help of your friends is so important, especially now when there is still time to fight.’….

October 25 2016


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June 21 2016
The 6th Congress Against the Death Penalty opens today in Oslo

The Community of Sant'Egidio takes part in the congress with delegations from Italy, Congo, Belgium, Spain, Germany and Indonesia

1500 attendants coming from over 80 countries. Among them, 20 ministers, 200 diplomats, members of different parliaments, scholars, lawyers, members of various associations and civil society actors
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