Alfredo Cristiani Burkard was born in San Salvador on November 22, 1947.
Educated at the American School in San Salvador and at Georgetown University in the United States, Alfredo Cristiani was principally a businessman until the early 1980s. In 1985, he became the head of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), a right-wing political party founded by Roberto d’Aubuisson, the former director of the Salvadorian national intelligence agency. Alfredo Cristiani became president of El Salvador in 1989 and served in this position until 1994.
At dawn on November 16 1989, Salvadorian military troops invaded the campus of the Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas” (UCA) and brutally murdered six Jesuit priests, including the headmaster, as well as the university’s housekeeper and her daughter. According to the report of the Salvadorian United Nations Truth Commission and to the indictment issued by the National Court of Spain, Alfredo Cristiani is said to have been in contact with the headmaster of UCA and to have asked him to return to El Salvador from Spain a few days before he was murdered. It is also alleged that Alfredo Cristani was in daily contact with those who organized the crime. He is accused of being directly involved with the concealment of the crime and with the obstruction of the investigation that followed the murders.
On November 13, 2008, the Spanish Association for Human Rights (APDHE) and the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) filed a suit with the Spanish National Court against Alfredo Cristiani and 14 Salvadorian military officers and soldiers. Two months later, on January 13, 2009, the Court opened an investigation.