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The Guardian: Former El Salvador colonel extradited to Spain over 1989 murder of Jesuits

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The Guardian has published the following article about the extradition of colonel Inocente Orlando Montano to Spain to be prosecuted for his involvement in the massacre of six Jesuit priests and two women in El Salvador in 1989. Montano has arrived in Madrid this morning, and will be appearing before the Spanish National Court tomorrow. The Guardian cites Almudena Bernabéu, co-founder of the Guernica Group and member of the legal team that will defend the victims’ families in the forthcoming trial:

“After nine years of difficult and great work, Montano’s arrival to Spain brings hope not only to the families and the Jesuit community but to all victims of El Salvador who have been waiting for justice since the end of the war.

“This trial offers an opportunity for truth and justice, even if taking place in Spain, and is an effective step towards ending impunity in El Salvador. This trial also underscores the need for national jurisdictions like Spain, to open their courts to victims of human right abuses.”

Former El Salvador colonel extradited to Spain over 1989 murder of Jesuits

A former Salvadoran army colonel has been extradited to Spain to face charges relating to the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her teenage daughter in El Salvador.

Inocente Orlando Montano, 76, arrived in Madrid from the United States on Wednesday and was placed in prison, according to the national court in Madrid.

He is to be brought before the court on Thursday.

Montano face charges for allegedly helping plan the attack on the Jesuit priests – five of whom were Spaniards – and two female victims.

US court documents said Montano was part of a group of military officers accused of conspiring to kill the priests, in order to derail peace talks during El Salvador’s 1980-1992 civil war.

The killings sparked international outrage and helped erode US support – which had included money, weapons and training – for the rightwing Salvadoran government.

While two officers served short sentences in El Salvador, Montano and other high-level officials accused of planning the murder were never charged by authorities there over the priests’ killings.

Montano has been the only one within reach of Spanish authorities because of legal issues in El Salvador where most of them still live.

In 2001, Montano moved to the United States, having lied to immigration authorities about his military record and entry date to obtain work papers. He was eventually discovered while living in Boston and, in 2012, pleaded guilty to six counts of immigration fraud and perjury.

Montano denied involvement in the killings, but last year a federal judge in North Carolina ruled that evidence showed he took part in the plot and approved his extradition to Spain. The final legal hurdle for the extradition was crossed earlier this month when the U.S. Supreme Court denied his request for a stay of extradition.

Almudena Bernabéu, a Spanish human rights lawyer who helped build the case against Montano, said: “After nine years of difficult and great work, Montano’s arrival to Spain brings hope not only to the families and the Jesuit community but to all victims of El Salvador who have been waiting for justice since the end of the war.

“This trial offers an opportunity for truth and justice, even if taking place in Spain, and is an effective step towards ending impunity in El Salvador. This trial also underscores the need for national jurisdictions like Spain, to open their courts to victims of human right abuses.”

Spain has also issued warrants in an effort to try other former officers who are currently living in El Salvador, but the Central American country declined to allow their extradition.


This article was originally published on 29 November 2017 at The Guardian.

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