"GUILTY": Justice for the Jesuits in El SalvadorBreaking News
tags: Cold War, Catholic Church, dictatorship, Central America, El Salvador, authoritarianism, anticommunism
Spanish Court holds Col. Montano Accountable for Jesuit Massacre
National Security Archive Hails Verdict in Jesuit Case
Universal Jurisdiction Used to Convict Salvadoran Officer of State Terror
Sep 11, 2020 Update
Washington D.C., September 11, 2020 – In a highly-anticipated, and long-awaited ruling, the National Court of Spain today convicted a retired Salvadoran military colonel for acts of state terrorism and murder in the assassination of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her teenaged daughter more than thirty years ago. The tribunal, presided by lead judge José Antonio Mora Alarcón, found retired Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano “guilty … of five counts of murder of a terrorist nature.”
The historic judgement marks the culmination of decades of work by the families of the victims, the Jesuit community, lawyers, experts, scholars, eyewitnesses, and human rights organizations in the United States and in El Salvador to bring to justice those responsible for the shocking crimes committed on the morning of November 16, 1989.
And it represents another milestone for the unique legal concept of “Universal Jurisdiction” as applied in the Spanish courts. “Without justice there is no peace, no reconciliation and no forgiveness,” observes Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, the human rights legal advocacy firm which represented victims in the Jesuit case. “Universal justice is not only justice, it is solidarity and hope for the victims.”
The ruling in Madrid also validates the work of the National Security Archive, which supplied hundreds of declassified documents as evidence in the case against Montano. Since its founding in 1985, the Archive has fought to open the secret U.S. archives on El Salvador, amassing a vast collection of records through the Freedom of Information Act and discretionary declassifications. Exhuming the buried secrets of the U.S. role in Salvador’s bloody civil war has been “trabajo de hormiga,” as they say in Spanish--ant’s work, tiny step by tiny step. But over the years it has led to the accumulation of an extraordinary trove of official reporting, new details, context, and corroborative evidence that has proven crucial in the prosecution of human rights violators.
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