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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Extradition Sought For 1989 Salvadoran Slayings

(CN) - The Justice Department is seeking the extradition to Spain of a former Salvadoran army officer to face murder charges in the deaths of five Jesuit priests killed in 1989.

Inocente Orlando Montano Morales is currently serving a 21-month prison sentence in North Carolina on immigration fraud charges, and is scheduled to be released on April 15.

He was indicted in Spain in March 2011 along with 19 other former Salvadoran army officers in connection with the murders, which took place during El Salvador's 12-year civil war.

According to the Justice Department, Morales was both a colonel in the army and the vice minister of defense and public safety at the time of the killings.

He is accused of overseeing a radio station that urged the murder of the priests as well as participating in meetings in which the order to kill the men was given.

The following day, prosecutors say, members of the Salvadoran military murdered six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and the housekeeper's 16-year-old daughter at a university. Five of the priests were Spanish nationals.

The alleged motive for their murders was to silence them and stop their advocacy of peace talks between the army and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, with whom it had been fighting.

On a related note. On Wednesday the United States deported former Gen. Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova to El Salvador to face charges that he participated in torture and killing by troops under his command.

Casanova is the highest-ranking foreign official to be deported under a law enacted in 2004 to prevent human rights violators to avoid prosecution for their alleged crimes by staying in the United States.

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