Spanish Judge Re-Issues Request for the Arrest of Military Officials

Spanish National Court Judge Eloy Velasco has re-issued a request for international arrest warrants for more than a dozen former Salvadoran military officials, including members of the military High Command, for their involvement in the murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador in 1989. The arrest warrants are for the purposes of extradition from El Salvador to stand trial in CJA’s case in Spain.

Almudena Bernabéu, CJA’s International Attorney and lead counsel in the Jesuits Massacre Case before the Spanish National Court, said: “This new request and the potential arrest of the defendants are beams of hope not only for the case in Spain but also for El Salvador. This demonstrates that justice is inevitable for even those who still cling to power and escape accountability through amnesty laws.”

CJA and the Spanish Association for Human Rights (APDHE) have sought justice for the 1989 murders since filing the Jesuits Massacre Case in Madrid in 2008 on behalf of the families of the murdered Jesuit priests.  Judge Velasco indicted the military officials in May 2011 and immediately requested the issuance of international arrest warrants. After receiving the INTERPOL red notices in August 2011, some of the defendants sought refuge on a military base in El Salvador, with the support of the Salvadoran Ministry of Defense. Their action was an evasion of legitimate police authority. On August 24, 2011, the Salvadoran Supreme Court ruled that red notices only required the identification of the location of the defendants, but not their arrest.

However, in August 2015, in an unrelated case,  the Constitutional Chamber of the Salvadoran Supreme Court ruled that, according to a treaty on international cooperation in criminal matters to which El Salvador is a party, an INTERPOL red notice requires both the identification of the location of the defendants and their arrest and detention pending an additional  filing, such as an extradition request.

Bernabéu said, “The decision of the Salvadoran Supreme Court comports with international standards and is indicative of a desire to cooperate with the Spanish courts to finally obtain justice for this terrible crime.”

In response to the Salvadoran court ruling, on November 16, 2015, the Salvadoran Human Rights Ombudsman, David Morales, issued a resolution asking Spanish authorities to re-issue the arrest warrants, for extradition purposes, against the defendants in the Jesuits Massacre Case. At the request of CJA and APDHE, Judge Velasco once again has requested that INTERPOL re-issues the international arrest warrants for all the Jesuit Massacre case defendants who reside in El Salvador.

CJA is also awaiting a decision from a North Carolina federal magistrate judge regarding the extradition from the U.S. to Spain of Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano, one of the members of the Salvadoran High Command accused of ordering the murders.

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.