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ABC News: “Another hurdle removed in Salvadoran colonel’s extradition”

Image: TRIAL International

Yesterday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request filed by former Salvadoran Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano to stay his extradition while the Court reaches a decision on appeal. On 21 August 2017, Judge Terrence Boyle of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina dismissed a petition for habeas corpus filed by Montano, thus removing the last legal obstacle to his extradition to Spain.

In Spain, Montano faces charges of murder and terrorism for his role as a commander in the killing of six Jesuits priests, their housewife and her daughter during 1989 at the University of Central America in San Salvador. This crime has an emblematic character for Salvadoran victims and civil society as it marked a turning point in the 12-year-long civil conflict.

The decision of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals confirms that Montano’s extradition can take place immediately, under the leadership of the State Department. The extradition was originally certified to the Secretary of State by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly Swank in February 2016.

Guernica’s Board Chair, Patty Blum, has spoken to ABC News about this last judicial development, and Jonathan Drew authored the following article informing about the consequences of the Court’s decision:

An appeals court rejected an effort by a former Salvadoran colonel to halt his extradition on charges that he planned notorious killings during the country’s civil war.

Spanish authorities want to prosecute Inocente Orlando Montano Morales in the 1989 killings of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador, where Montano served as vice minister for public security in the 1980s. Most of the priests were Spanish.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Montano’s request for a stay of extradition on Thursday, which means diplomats can proceed with sending him to face the charges in Spain.

Montano’s lawyer didn’t immediately respond to an email asking about any more appeals.

A federal judge approved his extradition in August, upholding a magistrate’s prior decision. Montano then appealed to the 4th Circuit.

The court hasn’t rejected that appeal outright, but a human rights lawyer who advocated for the charges said Thursday’s ruling shows he’s unlikely to win.

“He could be extradited while his appeal is pending,” said Patty Blum, who advises the international justice group Guernica 37.

The State Department is expected to sign off on the extradition because its lawyers already reviewed the case before turning it over to federal prosecutors. The State Department didn’t immediately return a message Friday.

Court documents say Montano was part of an inner circle of military officers accused of plotting to kill the priests, who were helping broker peace talks. The killings sparked international outrage.

Montano denied involvement, but the federal magistrate ruled that evidence presented by U.S. prosecutors showed he was involved in the plot.

Montano arrived in the U.S. in the early 2000s and worked at a candy factory near Boston. He was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to nearly two years for immigration fraud and perjury. He served that time in a federal prison in North Carolina, where his extradition case has subsequently unfolded.


This article, by Jonathan Drew, was published on 29th September 2017 at abc NEWS.

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