Former army colonel and government security minister Inocente Orlando Montano has been sentenced to 133 years in jail for the murder of a group of peaceful Jesuits.
At Spain’s Audiencia Nacional criminal court in Madrid, Montano, 77, was convicted for killing the five Spaniards during the El Salvador Civil War in a ‘terrorist murder’ that shocked the nation.
Proceedings were held under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows human rights crimes to be investigated in a different location to where they were committed.
59-year-old clergyman Father Ignacio Ellacuria from Bilbao, Ignacio Martin-Baro and Segundo Montes from Valladolid, Juan Ramon Moreno from Navarra and Amado Lopez from Burgos, los their lives in the gruesome incident.
Families of the victims were satisfied with the result of the trial but told reporters it was just the beginning and that justice must also be sought in El Salvador.
Despite the lengthy conviction, judges have said Montano will spend no more than 30 years behind bars.
Part of the atrocities committed by the corrupt military group ‘La Tandona’, the attack was intended to deter peace talks initiated by the Jesuits.
US-trained hitmen stormed the Jesuit’s accommodation at the Central American University in San Salvador and shot the group with AK-47 rifles taken from the leftwing group FMLN in an attempt to frame the group for the crime.
But counterproductively for La Tandona, the attack increased national pressure for a cease-fire and prompted the US to stop nearly all aid to El Salvador’s military regime.
Retrospectively, the massacre is considered one of the key events in negotiating the end of the Civil War.
Montano insisted he had ‘nothing against Jesuits’. However, the judge found the accused took part in the decision to execute Ignacio Ellacuria and any witnesses.