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El Salvador to arrest soldiers accused of 1989 priest murders

January 7, 2016

SAN SALVADOR — El Salvador has vowed to arrest 17 retired soldiers accused of killing six Jesuit priests and two women in 1989.

The announcement came two days after a Spanish judge sent a new request to international police agency Interpol demanding their arrest.

“We consider compliance with international arrest warrants to be mandatory, and we must proceed with immediate implementation by the Salvadoran authorities,” Salvador’s human rights ombudsman David Morales said late Wednesday.

In 2011, the former soldiers evaded a Spanish order for their arrest by taking refuge in military barracks in San Salvador.

They also secured a ruling from El Salvador’s Supreme Court saying they were protected by an amnesty that pardoned the atrocities committed during the 1980-1992 civil war.

See also: Remembering the Jesuits: Seeking justice in El Salvador after a quarter-century

El Salvador Jesuits massacre
A rose garden planted at the site of the 1989 murders by the school’s gardener, Obdulio Lozano, husband of Julia Elba Ramos. Photo by Joeff Davis

But this time, Morales urged the High Court to “proceed immediately to ensure the arrest of the accused.”

Spanish High Court Judge Eloy Velasco has reissued the orders for the arrest of the former soldiers.

They include Col. Inocente Montano, a former vice minister of public safety who is serving a 21-month sentence in the United States for immigration fraud.

Morales urged the United States to allow his extradition to Spain.

He also called on the military to “abstain” from blocking the arrest of the former soldiers.

Five of the priests killed in November 1989 were Spanish and one was Salvadoran. The soldiers also killed the priests’ housekeeper and her daughter.

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