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Salvadoran ex-soldiers to face charges for 1989 murder of Jesuits

August 09, 2011

In El Salvador, 9 retired soldiers have surrendered for questioning about the killing of 6 Jesuit priests in 1989.

The suspects—including a former Salvadoran defense minister—are among 20 people who have been indicted by a Spanish court, which asserted jurisdiction over the case. They were being sought by Salvadoran police on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by the Spanish court. It is not yet clear whether El Salvador will extradite the suspects to Spain.

Spanish prosecutors indicted the Salvadoran military veterans under the terms of a law that grants Spanish courts jurisdiction to try any individual charged with grave human-rights violations. That Spanish law is not recognized by all other countries.

According to a UN investigating tribunal, the Jesuits were killed on orders from General Rene Emilio Ponce, who died in May. General Rafael Humberto Larios, who was defense minister of El Salvador at the time, was reportedly present when Ponce ordered the killing of the Jesuits, who were despised by the ruling regime of that era because of their sympathies for leftist rebels.


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