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Ex-Salvadoran Colonel Accused in Jesuit Massacre Faces Extradition to Spain to Stand Trial for Human Rights Violations
Today the U.S. government filed a request seeking the extradition to Spain of Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano, the former Vice Minister of Public Safety in El Salvador, for his role in the 1989 Jesuit massacre, in which six Jesuit priests, a housekeeper, and her daughter were murdered in San Salvador. The filing includes a warrant for his arrest and seeks to have Col. Montano extradited to stand trial in Spain for the murders. Col. Montano has been serving a 21-month sentence in a federal prison in North Carolina for lying to gain immigration benefits in the United States. He will continue in U.S. custody awaiting his extradition hearing in a North Carolina federal court.
Carolyn Patty Blum, Senior Legal Advisor at the Center for Justice & Accountability (CJA), said: “This is an extraordinary step towards justice and individual criminal accountability. We are confident that, after a hearing before a federal judge, Col. Montano will be expeditiously extradited and will be tried before the Spanish National Court for the Jesuit murders.”
In 1989, in the midst of El Salvador’s brutal civil war, Col. Montano conspired with other members of El Salvador’s military high command to carry out these killings. Col. Montano never faced justice for his crime until CJA filed the Jesuits Massacre Case before the Spanish National Court and secured an indictment. As a result of CJA’s investigation and case in Spain, U.S. authorities discovered Col. Montano living in Boston and arrested him in 2011.
CJA International Attorney Almudena Bernabeu said: “The Jesuits Massacre Case is especially important for El Salvador, a country where justice for the victims has been long denied. CJA is deeply proud that our commitment as an organization to El Salvador and its people has brought hope; we are looking forward to the extradition of Col. Montano and the historic trial so long overdue.”
Col. Montano’s extradition will set the stage for the progression of the Jesuits Massacre Case before the Spanish National Court. “The Jesuits Massacre Case is one of the most important cases internationally in the struggle against impunity,” said Bernabeu, noting that the relatives of the victims have sought justice for these heinous murders for the past 25 years. “Now, the indictments in Spain, the extradition request for Col. Montano, and the trial to follow will be the final effort to consolidate all that has been investigated and reported over the last 25 years – to unfold and reconstruct the murders and the story of the murders in a way that tells the complete truth and guarantees criminal accountability.”
CJA applauds the Spanish National Court and Spanish government for their commitment to and diligence on the Jesuits Massacre Case and the U.S. government, especially the U.S. Attorney Offices in the Eastern District of North Carolina and Boston, for pursuing Col. Montano, both for his crimes in the United States and his international crimes.
About the Center for Justice and Accountability
CJA is a San Francisco-based human rights organization dedicated to deterring torture and other severe human rights abuses around the world and advancing the rights of survivors to seek truth, justice and redress. CJA uses litigation to hold perpetrators individually accountable for human rights abuses, develop human rights law, and advance the rule of law in countries transitioning from periods of abuse.