Friday, February 17, 2012

NCR reports on alleged murderer of Jesuits

Salvadoran colonel implicated in Jesuit killings pleads not guilty to fraud, perjury

Feb. 17, 2012

A notorious graduate of the U.S. Army's School of the Americas -- a Salvadoran colonel implicated in the 1989 assassinations of six Jesuit priests -- is fighting criminal charges for allegedly lying on immigration papers that have allowed him to live quietly in the United States for the last 10 years.

Former Col. Inocente Orlando Montano Morales pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of fraud and perjury in U.S. District Court in Boston.

The 69-year-old former vice minister for public security, who had been working in a candy factory in Massachusetts, faces up to 40 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors say he lied under oath and gave false statements in 2002 when he applied for temporary protected status, a status given to those who fear for their lives if returned to their native country. Montano stated that he had never served in the military or received weapons training.

Since his arrest in August, Montano has acknowledged he had been in the Salvadoran armed forces, but insists he played no role in the Jesuit killings at San Salvador's Central American University.

However, the 1993 U.N. Truth Commission report tells a different story.

On the night before the massacre, the report says Colonel René Emilio Ponce discussed the plot against the Jesuits in the presence of Montano and other officers. Ponce and Montano were old friends, both 1970 graduates of the School of the Americas, a facility of the U.S. Army at Fort Benning, Ga., which trains Latin American soldiers.

At the meeting, Ponce gave "the order to kill Fr. Ignacio Ellacuría and to leave no witnesses," the U.N. report says. Ellacuría, the rector of the university, and his fellow Jesuits were among the most respected intellectuals in the country and among the strongest voices for a negotiated peace to their country's civil war.

Just hours after the meeting, in the early morning of Nov. 16, 1989, an elite "anti-terrorist" unit of the Salvadoran army stormed the university, dragging Ellacuría and the other Jesuits from their beds and blowing out the backs of their heads with high-powered assault rifles. To eliminate witnesses, the soldiers then executed the priests' cook and her teenage daughter, riddling them with bullets as they clung to each other.

The U.N. report also states Montano was among the officers who participated in a cover-up, who "pressured lower-ranking officers not to mention orders from above in their testimony to the court."


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