BY ISN STAFF | December 5, 2017

The Jesuit-run University of Central America (UCA) located in San Salvador, El Salvador, released a statement on November 27 commenting on the reopening of the case regarding the six Jesuit martyrs and their companions, who were killed in 1989 at the university.

The rose garden commemorating the Jesuits and their companions adjacent to the Jesuit residence at the University of Central America [Source: John Donaghy, Creative Commons]

Early last week a former Salvadoran military officer, Col. Inocente Orlando Montano Morales was extradited from the United States to Spain to face charges of murder and crimes against humanity regarding his role in the plot to murder the six Jesuit priests and Elba and Celina Ramos at the UCA on November 16, 1989. Montano, now 74 years old, had been living in the Boston, Massachusetts area for the past ten years. Last Thursday, a Spanish judge ordered Montano jailed while he awaits trial.

UCA Statement on Reopening of Jesuit Martyrs’ Case

On behalf of the victims of the massacre that claimed the lives of Elba and Celina Ramos and of six Jesuits on November 16, 1989, we request the reopening of the judicial process that was maliciously cut short in the year 2000. A process against the intellectual authors of such murders, before the Third Court of Peace of San Salvador.

Given the unconstitutionality of the amnesty law, we decided to wait and provide input for the development of a transitional justice law, which would facilitate justice promptly and fully for all serious human rights violations committed in the armed conflict and which would publicize those violations judicially. However, in this almost year and a half, the State has not concerned itself with moving in that direction: few cases have been brought to justice and there is no concrete initiative to design a transitional justice framework, oriented towards truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition. For our part, on May 29 of this year, we presented a request for commutation of sentence in favor of Colonel Guillermo Benavides, as an example of the direction that such justice could go.

To date, the corresponding authorities have not resolved our request for commutation. Although the judicial process completed in 1992 had severe flaws, as recognized by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 1999, we have decided not to proceed against any of those who were tried at that time. We believe that despite the weakness and contradictions of that trial, the courts of that time have already gone through a process in which the truth about material authorship was established and, in addition, they complied with formal detentions for some time. Based on the sense of transitional justice, we request the reopening of the judicial process against the intellectual authors of the massacre. We are convinced that the responsibility for the murders falls on a group of high-ranking military personnel, mainly from the same batch (1966), who managed to control most positions of power within the Armed Forces and, consequently, felt impunity when it came to acting illegally. Under this reflection, when the initial hearing is convened, we will present some modifications regarding what was requested in the year 2000.

San Salvador, November 27, 2017

The UCA statement was originally released in Spanish; an English translation was provided by Scarly Rodriguez, Nick Endo, and Caitlin Terashima in El Salvador:

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