BY ISN STAFF | August 22, 2013
Former Salvadoran Vice Minister of Defense for Public Security Inocente Orlando Montano will be sentenced for violating federal criminal immigration fraud and perjury laws in the United States. The sentencing phase, which began in January, should conclude on today (August 22), though it possible the remainder of the sentencing trial will continue on Monday, August 26th due to a scheduling conflict. The sentencing trial will be heard by the Honorable Douglas P. Woodlock at Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts.
Montano is an indicted defendant in the criminal case pending before the Spanish National Court and brought by the Center for Justice and Accountability for his role as one of the decision-makers ordering the assassination of the Jesuits priests and their employees in El Salvador in 1989. In September 2012, Colonel Montano pled guilty to six counts of immigration fraud and perjury for making false statements on his application for Temporary Protected Status in order to hide his Salvadoran military career and to obtain a humanitarian benefit for which he was not eligible. The prosecution argued for an enhanced sentence based on evidence related to Montano’s role in the November 16, 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter on the campus of the University of Central America and lengthy history of human rights abuses committed by troops Montano commanded during the Salvadoran civil war. The prosecution argued that Montano came to the United States and lied about his past, in part, to avoid possible criminal prosecution for the Jesuit killings. The prosecution’s expert witness, Professor Terry Karl of Stanford University, has filed an expert report in the case and will be made available for cross-examination.
Colonel Montano has indicated he intends to call General Mauricio Vargas as a witness on his behalf. Vargas was a classmate of Montano’s in the military academy and represented the military’s interests at the peace negotiations that ended the war. Vargas, Montano and others later were purged from the military based on their human rights records.
The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) initiated the criminal case for the Jesuits massacre against 20 former members of the military responsible for the massacre, including the other members of the High Command alongside Col. Montano. The defendants are charged with crimes against humanity and murder. The Spanish National Court has issued indictments, arrest warrants and extradition requests against the defendants. The Court seeks to have them stand trial in Spain for the murders. The extradition request for Montano is pending before U.S. government officials.
Center for Justice and Accountability is a San Francisco-based human rights organization dedicated to deterring torture and other severe human rights abuses around the world and advancing the rights of survivors to seek truth, justice and redress. CJA uses litigation to hold perpetrators individually accountable for human rights abuses, develop human rights law, and advance the rule of law in countries in transition from periods of abuse.
Carolyn Patty Blum – Center for Justice & Accountability