133 years in prison for a colonel from El Salvador for the murders of Spanish priests

133 years in prison for a colonel from El Salvador for the murders of Spanish priests.

A Spanish Supreme Court has sentenced a former colonel in El Salvador's army to 133 years in prison for killing 1989 Spanish Jesuit priests during the civil war in the Central American state, Reuters reported.

The court found 77-year-old Inosente (innocent in Bulgarian) Orlando Montano Morales also responsible for the murders of the housekeeper of one of the priests, her 15-year-old daughter and another local Jesuit priest. The court did not convict him of these crimes because his extradition to Spain did not cover these cases.

The killings took place while Montano Morales was deputy public security minister. They are one of the most sinister episodes in the ten-year civil war, in which 75,000 people were killed and 8,000 disappeared.

133 years in prison for a colonel from El Salvador for the murders of Spanish priests

The judges said Montano Morales was guilty of five murders of a "terrorist nature" and added that they were committed by the state apparatus, making them acts of state terrorism.

The court panel stated that the maximum effective sentence to be served is 30 years.

The conviction was welcomed by human rights groups.

Justice is finally triumphing in El Salvador, said Erica Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International's director of America. She called the sentence a victory for the thousands of victims of atrocities during the armed conflict.

Montano Morales has been detained since 2011 when he was arrested in the United States on charges of immigration fraud. Sent to Spain in 2017

The Spanish government has blamed 20 former Salvadoran army officers for the killings. One of the priests, Father Ignacio Elacuria, was a staunch critic of the then US-backed government.

On November 16, 1989, a group of soldiers from a battalion trained by the Americans entered the campus of the Central American University, where Elyakuria was rector.

Elyakuria advocated an agreed settlement of the end of the war waged by the military junta government against the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front.

International condemnation of the killings of priests has helped push for a solution to the conflict, Reuters reports.

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