A former Salvadoran army officer has testified that the “high command” gave orders to eliminate Jesuit priests during the country’s civil war. He also said the Central American country’s president would have known of the crimes to be committed and did not intervene.
The testimony was offered at the trial of Inocente Orlando Montano, a former colonel in the army of El Salvador, who is on trial in Spain for the murders of six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter on the campus of a Catholic university.
“The entire operation was ordered by the high command,” testified Yusshy Rene Mendoza, a former lieutenant in the Salvadoran army and a co-operating witness.
Testifying on 8th July, Mendoza said his superior, Guillermo Benavides, a former colonel and then-director of the army academy, told troops the night before the crime that an order had come to move against Spanish Jesuit Fr Ignacio Ellacuria, rector of Central American University in San Salvador.
“Benavides told me that he had to execute the order that had been received and Montano was one of the persons that gave the order to eliminate Ellacuria. He told me that several times,” Mendoza, who worked as an assistant to Benavides, told the court.
Picture: Salvadoran Gen. Rene Emilio Ponce, right, and his colleagues, Colonels Francisco Elena Fuentes, left, and Inocente Orlando Montano, centre, are pictured in a 2000 photo during a news conference denying involvement in the 1989 deaths of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter. (CNS photo/Reuters).