Salvadoran justice will reopen the file of the massacre of five Spanish Jesuits in 1989 | International

A woman looks at the portraits of six Jesuit priests who were murdered on November 16, 1989, January 6, 2022, in San Salvador, El Salvador.Rodrigo Sura (EFE)

The conviction of Colonel and former Deputy Defense Minister Inocente Orlando Montano for the 1989 massacre of six Jesuits – including five Spaniards – in El Salvador, confirmed a year ago, seemed to end three decades of impunity for the murder Ignacio Ellacuría and five other religious. However, the announcement of the reopening of the case by order of the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) of the Central American country shows that there is still a long way to go before the facts are clarified and all the military personnel. involved are held to account. .

“We welcome the decision, because it responds to a demand for justice and truth, both from the Society of Jesus and the University of Central America (UCA) and from the families of the victims”, declared the Jesuit priest. Andreu Oliva in statements to Efe. Andreu is rector of the UCA, on the university campus from which the massacre took place.

In 2020, the criminal chamber of the Supreme Court ordered the closure of the criminal proceedings and also ordered a halt to the investigation against the men identified as the masterminds of the massacre. Faced with this decision, which dealt a blow to families and to the religious community to which the religious belonged, the Attorney General, Rodolfo Delgado, lodged an appeal with the Constitutional Court last November to review the decision. For the prosecutor, closing the case meant going “against Salvadoran law and against the right to truth and justice of the Salvadoran people and victims of serious human rights violations”.

The assassination of the priests and two collaborators took place at dawn on November 16, 1989 during the civil war in that country. In the midst of a guerrilla offensive on San Salvador, members of the now Atlacatl battalion carried out the assassination on the campus of the Jesuit University of Central America. Ellacuría had become an uncomfortable figure for the government of El Salvador. With him, four other Spanish religious were shot (Ignacio Martín-Baró, Segundo Montes, Amando López and Juan Ramón Moreno); and one from El Salvador, Joaquín López, as well as the wife and daughter of the university tutor, Elba and Celina Ramos.

The military entered the university with the aim of killing its rector, the Jesuit Ellacuría, and his companions, prestigious intellectuals who critically analyzed the reality of the Central American country.

Those identified as possible intellectual perpetrators of the murders are former President Alfredo Cristiani, Generals Humberto Larios, Juan Bustillo, Francisco Fuentes and Rafael Zepeda, René Emilio Ponce [quien ya falleció] and Colonel Inocente Montano, sentenced in Spain to 133 years in prison.

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The Supreme Court ruling opened a new opportunity to uncover the truth about one of the crimes that marked the history of the Central American country. “If it is really determined who are those who organized and decided on the massacre at the university and are condemned according to our laws, the message that would be given is that there is no longer impunity in El Salvador and that crimes against humanity and they can be tried in times of war, ”said Jesuit priest Andreu Oliva.

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Elna M. Lemons