MADRID – Spain’s High Court sentenced on Friday retired Salvadoran colonel Inocente Montano to 133 years in prison for his role in the murder of five Spanish Jesuit priests in 1989.
The court found him guilty of planning and ordering the slaying of Ignacio Ellacuria, who was the rector of the Central American University and priests Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Amando Lopez and Juan Ramon Moreno.
Salvadoran priest Joaquin Lopez, university cook Julia Elba and her 15-year-old daughter were also killed in the attack.
Montano, who was deputy minister for public security at the time of the killings, which took place during the Salvadoran civil war (1979-92), was present at the court in Madrid to hear his sentencing.
He was found guilty on five counts of murder of a terrorist nature and handed a sentence of 133 years, four months and five days in prison.
The court also deemed him responsible for the murder of the Salvadoran priest, the cook and her daughter but could not try him for those crimes as they were not included in the grounds of his 2017 extradition from the United States.
The national court ordered him to serve a minimum of 30 years in prison. Montano is 77.
According to the judges, the eight murders “were contrived, planned, agreed and ordered by the members of the high command of the Armed Forces, a body to which Montano belonged as deputy minister of public security.”
They said he was involved in the decision to transmit the order to carry out the executions to colonel Guillermo Benavides, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison in El Salvador in 2017.
On the morning of Nov. 16, 1989, at the height of an insurgent offensive, Salvadoran soldiers invaded the Central American University campus in San Salvador and carried out the orders to execute the Jesuit priests.
The priests had called for peace talks between the United States-backed Salvadoran government and the FMLN guerillas.