Ex-Salvadoran Colonel Faces Extradition on 1989 Jesuit Murders

(CN) – The United States announced Wednesday it is extraditing Inocente Orlando Montano Morales, a former Salvadoran army colonel, to Spain to face charges related to the murder five Spanish Jesuits nearly 30 years ago.

Montano, 74, formerly of Everett, Massachusetts, is one of the first top ranking Salvadoran commanders to face criminal prosecution for the 1989 murders which occurred during the 10-year Salvadoran civil conflict.

A Spanish magistrate judge issued the arrest warrant for Morales and 19 other Salvadoran commanders in March, 2011. Then, in April 2015, the Justice Department filed a complaint in federal court in North Carolina seeking Montano’s extradition to Spain.

According to the complaint, from 1980-1991 El Salvador was entangled in a civil conflict between the military-led government and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front.

On the morning of Nov. 16, 1989 the military murdered six Jesuit priests, five of whom where Spanish nationals, their housekeeper, and the housekeeper’s 16-year-old daughter at Universidad Centroamericana, the complaint says.

The day before the massacre, Montano also allegedly participated in a series of meetings during which one of his fellow officers gave the order to kill the leader of the Jesuits and leave no witnesses.

“Criminals and those lawfully charged with criminal offenses overseas should not be able to find safe haven in the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan in a written statement.  “Today’s extradition demonstrates our firm commitment to honoring our obligations under extradition treaties. As a result, an alleged human-rights violator will now face justice in Spain.”

Montano was convicted in 2013 of immigration fraud and perjury in connection with false statements that he made to immigration authorities to remain in the United States. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison.

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