U.S. Indicts Jesuits Massacre Defendant Inocente Orlando Montano for Immigration Fraud Based on Concealing Human Rights Abuses

Boston, February 9, 2012
– Retired Salvadoran colonel Inocente Orlando Montano has been indicted on federal criminal immigration fraud and perjury charges.  The indictment includes three counts of making false statements on his application for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a humanitarian immigration benefit for Salvadorans unable to return safely to their home country.  A further two counts of perjury round out the indictment.  He faces a possible 40 years in federal prison and over a million dollars in fines, if convicted on all counts. Montano is one of the indicted defendants in the case pending before the Spanish National Court for the 1989 for the Jesuits Massacre in El Salvador.

The indictments in Spain were the result of the case filed by the CJA and its Spanish partner, the Spanish Association Pro Human Rights (APDHE), on November 13, 2008.  After a two and half year intensive investigation, Spanish Judge Eloy Velasco issued an over 75 page indictment detailing the background to and the planning, ordering, and carrying out of the crime.  Col. Montano, as Vice Minister of Defense for Public Security, was one of 4 top commanders of the Salvadoran military at the time of the killings.  Judge Velasco has issued, and the U.S. government has received, a formal extradition request for Montano.

The accusations against Col. Montano stem from his failure, on multiple occasions, to answer truthfully questions on the TPS immigration form regarding his service in the Salvadoran military.  The indictment indicates that Montano lied about his date of entry into the United States in order to qualify unlawfully for the Salvadoran TPS program.  In addition, he falsely answered no to a question regarding having received military or weapons training.  The perjury charges result from the fact that he knew his answers, signed under oath, were false.  Col. Montano freely admitted his thirty year history in the Salvadoran military during a December 19, 2011 court appearance before presiding Judge Douglas Woodlock.  

In reacting to the indictment, CJA Senior Legal Advisor Carolyn Patty Blum commented, “We are gratified that the Boston U.S. Attorney’s Office so vigorously has pursued federal criminal charges against Col. Montano.  The U.S. case serves the goals of justice for all the victims and is part of a larger attempt finally to end the impunity of the intellectual authors of the heinous massacre of the priests, their housekeeper and her daughter.”