Today, the news broke in Madrid that the National Court has sentenced Inocente Montano to 26 years, 8 months, and one day of prison for each one of the five Spanish Jesuits murdered almost 31 years ago. Among the dead was Basque Father Ignacio Ellacuría, from Portugalete, who was the chancellor of the José Simeón Cañas University of Central America (UCA).
It is said that one of the characteristics that a judicial system must have to serve true Justice is that of not delaying sentencing. These 31 years between the murders and the sentence, in a country thousand of miles across an ocean from El Salvador, where it took place, proves that while a step in the right direction has been taken, this cannot be called authentic Justice.
But if anything truly proves the lack of authentic justice for the victims of that barbarity, it is that the sentence only refers to the murder of five of the eight people who were massacred on the morning of November 16, 1989 by a group of soldiers from the Atlacatl Battalion of the El Salvador Armed Forces. These five people were those who had Spanish passports.
Moreover, in 2014, the Salvadorian government refused to extradite 13 former soldiers who had been deemed responsible, meaning the sentence only affects one of those who were responsible, the one who took refuge in the United States with fake papers. The US authorities did decide to extradite.
Today, a small step towards Justice has been taken for what happened in El Salvador in those dark years. While it is quite small, it is much more than has been achieved so far, because a step towards Truth, Justice, and Reparations for the victims of that conflict has been made. Nevertheless, the path ahead is still going to be long and hard, especially because in the country where this undeclared yet terrible war (70,000 dead, 80% of whom were civilians, and 8,000 missing) took place, there is no hope Justice will prevail. This is made even worse by those many people, including political leaders, who try to justify this type of massacres.
For all this, it is necessary to remember the victims who were murdered
Celina Ramos, aged 16. Salvadorian daughter of the dormitory cook,
Ignacio Ellacuría, Jesuit, University Chancellor
Ignacio Martín-Baró, Jesuit, Academic Vice Chancellor
Segundo Montes, Jesuit, UCA Human Rights Institute Director
Juan Ramón Moreno, Jesuit, Theology Library Director
Amando López, Jesuit, Philosophy Professor
Joaquín López y López, Jesuit, University Founder
Elba Ramos, Salvadorian , dormitory cook.
(In gray, those who were not mentioned in the sentence, as they were Salvadorians).
We wrote, back in December 2015, an entry to the Basque Jesuit murdered that morning.
We’ll leave you with some of the articles we’ve found in Salvadorian newspapers and the message from the Lehendakari on the sentence. We also include reports from the Mexican daily Progreso, which includes reactions from Amnesty International, and the article published in The Guardian.
El Salvador – 11/9/2020 – El Salvador
Hoy se dio un gran paso a la verdad”: UCA sobre la condena del coronel Montano en el caso Jesuitas
Tras conocerse el fallo en contra del coronel Inocente Montano por los asesinatos de cinco sacerdotes jesuitas de origen español, la Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas” (UCA) se pronunció de manera oficial al señalar que la justicia salvadoreña está en deuda por no haber juzgado a los que considera “autores intelectuales”.
La Prensa Gráfica – 11/9/2020 – El Salvador
Matanza de jesuitas en El Salvador: condenan a más de 130 años de cárcel al exmilitar Inocente Montano
La Audiencia Nacional de España sentenció a Inocente Montano a 26 años, 8 meses y un día de cárcel por cada una de las muertes de los cinco jesuitas españoles asesinados hace casi 31 años.
Proceso – 11/9/2020 – Mexico
Amnistía Internacional califica de “histórica” la condena por el asesinato de jesuitas en 1989
“Este fallo histórico es un paso importante en la búsqueda de la justicia que, por décadas, ha sido negada en El Salvador a las víctimas del conflicto armado”, aseguró Amnistía Internacional España tras conocer la sentencia de la Audiencia Nacional que condena al excoronel y exviceministro de defensa salvadoreño Inocente Montano por el asesinato de cinco sacerdotes jesuitas en 1989
The Guardian – 11/9/2020 – Gran Bretaña
Ex-Salvadoran colonel jailed for 1989 murder of Spanish Jesuits
A former Salvadoran army colonel who served as a government security minister has been sentenced to 133 years in prison after being found guilty of the murder of five Spanish Jesuits who died in one of the infamous atrocities of El Salvador’s 12-year civil war.
Iñigo Urkullu . Lehendakari (Basque President)
«Today, we heard about the Sentence from the National Court which finds Inocente Orlando Montaño one of those guilty for murdering Basque Jesuit pastor Ignacio Ellacuria.
Ellacuria was killed at the Central American University in San Salvador on November 16, 1989 alongside 5 priests and the University cook, Elba Ramos, and her daughter, Celina, aged 15.
This sentence, while 31 years after the fact, is a clear contribution to the fulfillment of the right to truth, justice, and reparations that all victims of grave civil rights violations have.
In his honor, every year, the Basque Government awards the Ignacio Ellacuría Award, in his memory»