Declassified Documents Provide Evidence of Human Rights Violations in Inocente Orlando Montano’s Immigration Fraud Case
Inocente Orlando Montano, El Salvador’s former Vice Minister of Defense, was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for immigration fraud and perjury earlier this week. Montano plead guilty to the charges in September 2012.
The prosecution called on expert witness Dr. Terry Karl to testify about Montano’s military career during the sentencing portion of the trial. Karl provided declassified documents obtained by the National Security Archive to prove Montano helped orchestrate the infamous Jesuit Priest Massacre in 1989, one of many human rights crimes committed over his 30-year military career. Karl stated explicitly that, ‘Colonel Montano was part of the small core group of elite officers, one of whom gave the official order to “kill Ellacuría and leave no witnesses” on November 15, 1989.’ The group met several times to plan the murders of six Jesuit priests, their house maid and her 16 year old daughter.
Among the documents Dr. Karl drew from for his testimony was a declassified Department of State cable. The cable notes that “several high-level ESAF [Armed Forces of El Salvador] officers attended a meeting at the military academy in the morning on November 15, 1989” at which “the decision to murder the Jesuits was finalized.”
Montano could now be extradited to Spain to face charges for ordering the 1989 killing of the Jesuits in El Salvador.
The Center for Justice and Accountability stated, “[t]his sentence is an extraordinarily important step forward for the relatives of the victims of the massacre and sends a message to human rights abusers that they cannot seek safe haven in the U.S. and avoid accountability for their actions. “