Court frees military officers accused in Jesuit murders
The Supreme Court of El Salvador, in a 10-2 vote, has decided to order 9 former military officers freed who were in detention following an order for their arrest from a Spanish court. An AP report describes today's ruling:
El Salvador's Supreme Court refused to order the detention of nine former military officers indicted in Spain for the 1989 slayings of six Jesuit priests during the Central American country's 1980-1992 civil war.
The court ruled that no formal extradition request has been received from Spain. The ex-officers turned themselves in voluntarily in early August at a military base, but are not under detention. The court has said it would consider an extradition request if one were received. But at present, all that is pending against the men in El Salvador is an Interpol request that they be located, something that has already been accomplished.
Although this decision does not preclude the possibility of a future extradition, the decision was greeted bitterly by Benjamin Cuellar, head of the Human Rights Institute at the University of Central America, who described the decision as "one more chapter in the farce" and that the justice system in El Salvador had not changed despite the passage of 20 years since the end of the civil war.
The 9 officers in El Salvador were a subset of the 20 officers indicted in Spain. In the US, one of the other indicted military officers was arrested this week for immigration fraud. Inocente Orlando Montano was colonel in the Salvadoran military and had been living in Massachusetts.