Summary: US judge grants extradition of Salvadoran colonel accused in 1989 Jesuit Massacre

North Carolina, 5th February 2016: Magistrate Judge Kimberly Swank has today approved the extradition to Spain of Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano, El Salvador’s former Vice Minister of Public Security, to stand trial for his role in the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests, a housekeeper, and her daughter at the University of Central America in El Salvador. This extradition decision is the culmination of work led by SRT grantee the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and its partners in El Salvador and Spain.

CJA filed the Jesuits Massacre Case in Madrid in 2008 against former Salvadoran President Alfredo Cristiani Burkard and 14 former military officers and soldiers who ordered the murders. However, most military officials had been protected from extradition and prosecution because of El Salvador’s blanket amnesty law. Colonel Montano has been detained in the US since October 2013, and on April 8, 2015 the US government filed a request seeking his extradition to Spain. Once Colonel Montano is extradited, he will face a criminal trial in Spain before a three-judge panel of the Spanish National Court, which will be the biggest undertaking in CJA’s history.

Colonel Montano was one of four top commanders of the Salvadoran military at the time of the killings, and Father Ellacuría was targeted for his attempt to broker peace between the government and rebel forces of the Farabundo Martí Liberation Front. Magistrate Judge Swank verified that Colonel Montano and his fellow co-conspirators “commissioned” the Atlatcatl Battalion of the Salvadoran Armed Forces to carry out the order to kill Father Ignacio Ellacuría, and to leave no witnesses.

Salvadorans have waited to see these military officials held accountable. Carlos Martín Baró, plaintiff in CJA’s Jesuits Massacre Case in Spain and brother of Father Ignacio Martín Baró, one of the murdered priests, said, “The fact that Colonel Montano may face trial in Spain won’t heal the pain but is a victory for all people who seek justice.”

Full press release from CJA’s website:

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