The Jesuit-run Central American University in El Salvador welcomed the verdict of a Spanish court, which convicted a former Salvadoran colonel for the murder of five Jesuit priests in 1989.
The verdict was “an extraordinary service to the truth” from a conflict in which many atrocities have gone unpunished, the university statement said. It expressed some sadness, however, that justice had not occurred in El Salvador, where the slayings occurred during the country’s civil war.
“Through the evidence and testimony given, the system of concealment and impunity overseen by the armed forces and the Salvadoran state (to a certain degree) has become clear, especially in the face of the human rights violations committed during the civil war,” the university said in a statement.
The trial, the statement continued, “clearly showed the armed forces…operated as a criminal and cover-up machine”.
The statement said the results of the trial in Spain would lead to “real steps in favour of truth and justice, not only in the so-called Jesuit case, but in all the (cases) related to serious human rights violations”.
In an 11th September ruling, former Col. Inocente Orlando Montano, 77, was found to have planned and ordered the murders of the five Jesuits priests – all Spanish nationals – on 16th November 1989, at their residence on the Central American University campus.
The five Spaniards were Fr Ignacio Ellacuria, university rector, along with Frs Ignacio Martín-Baro, Juan Ramón Moreno, Amando López and Segundo Montes. Salvadoran Jesuit Fr Joaquín López and Julia Elba Ramos, a housekeeper, and her teenage daughter Celina, also were killed in the attack.
The court could only rule on the cases of the five Spanish Jesuits as a condition of Montano’s 2017 extradition to Spain from the United States, where he resided prior to his extradition.
Picture: Former Salvadoran Col. Inocente Orlando Montano was sentenced to more than 133 years in prison for his involvement in the slaying of five Spanish Jesuits in El Salvador in 1989. The ruling came on 11th September 2020; he is pictured here during his trial in June. (CNS photo/DPA/TNS/ABACAPRESS.COM via Reuters).