Boston – The lawyer representing a former military official from El Salvador accused of conspiring to kill six Jesuit priest in 1989 is due in federal court.
Inocente Orlando Montano was among 20 Salvadorans indicted in Spain in connection with the killings during El Salvador’s 12-year civil war. He denies involvement in the killings.
Along with the massacre in the hamlet of El Mozote, the killing of the six priests drew international headlines and widespread criticism of the Salvadoran government during the civil war.
While a 1991 case led to the imprisonment of only one of the military officers involved in the case, two Spanish human rights organizations filed a lawsuit in 2008 against the former Salvadoran president Alfredo Cristiani and 14 members of the Salvadoran Military for their alleged involvement in the killings.
The Spanish court in 2011 ruled against 20 Salvadoran members of the military, and ordered their immediate arrest internationally. The court added that the priests were killed for having tried to end the Salvadoran Civil War and that the operation against the Jesuits included pyscholgical attacks, accusations of conspiracy with the guerrilla group FMLN and finally the massacre by the Salvadoran military’s feared Atlacatl battalion.
On the 20th anniversary of massacre, Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes awarded the Order of José Matías Delgado, the greatest recognition that can be granted by the Salvadoran government, to the six murdered scholars and priests. Funes, who is a member of the FMLN political party, was taught by the Jesuits and knew the slain scholars personally.
Montano was arrested on separate immigration charges in 2011. He has been living in suburban Boston for the last decade.
Prosecutors allege that Montano made false statements when he applied to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for a protected status in 2002. The government says Montano answered ‘‘no’’ to several questions on the application, including whether he had ever served in a military, paramilitary or police unit.
His lawyer and prosecutors are due in court Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.