Legal proceedings in Jesuit massacre cases
As the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Jesuit massacre approaches, there are two judicial cases pending which seek to impose criminal liability on the military hierarchy which sent troops to kill the priests and teachers at the UCA. One case has moved steadily forward in a human rights court in Spain, homeland of 5 of the 6 Jesuits. The other case is barely alive in a court in El Salvador.
In Spain, the human rights court is proceeding in the prosecution of the one defendant before it, former Colonel Inocente Montano. Montano is the defendant, found in the US, and later extradited to Spain after he finished a sentence for immigration fraud. Meanwhile the other defendants remain safely in El Salvador, which refuses to extradite them to the proceedings before the Spanish court.
The human rights prosecutors announced this year that they are seeking a prison term of 150 years for Montano. Montano has been in pre-trial detention for the past two years in Spain awaiting his trial.
The refusal of Salvadoran courts to extradite them to Spain was almost all the protection the military command needed until 2016, when El Salvador's highest court overturned a 1993 amnesty law. Next a court case was reopened in 2018 in El Salvador against the top military officers with authority to order the massacre. In March, 2019, an appeals court ruled that this case may proceed.
Despite the permission to proceed, the Salvadoran prosecutors office has shown little signs of moving the case forward. A quasi-amnesty law which is stalled in draft form in El Salvador's Legislative Assembly could still have impact on the type of judicial sanction the defendants might face.