In this file picture taken on December 14, 2000 retired Salvadoran Army Generals Inocente Orlando Montano and Rene Emilio Ponce (out of frame) speak during a press conference where they reaffirmed their innocence in the 1989 murders of six Spanish Jesuit priests and two of their Salvadoran employees by soldiers under their command in 1989 in San Salvador. (Photo: Edgar Romero/AFP)
A Spanish court has convicted a former Salvadoran colonel for the murders of five Jesuit priests in 1989 — a rare act of justice for an atrocity from El Salvador’s brutal civil war.In a Sept. 11 ruling, former Col. Inocente Orlando Montano, 77, was found to have planned and ordered the murders of the five Jesuits priests — all Spanish nationals — Nov. 16, 1989, at their residence on the campus of Jesuit-run Central American University in San Salvador.The five Spaniards were Father Ignacio Ellacuria, university rector, along with Fathers Ignacio Martín-Baro, Juan Ramón Moreno, Amando López and Segundo Montes. Salvadoran Jesuit Father Joaquín López and Julia Elba Ramos, a housekeeper, and her teenage daughter Celina, also were killed in the attack.The court could only rule on the cases of the five Spanish Jesuits as a condition of Montano’s 2017 extradition to Spain from the United States, where he resided prior to his extradition.Montano, who appeared at his Madrid trial in a wheelchair, was sentenced to 133 years, four months and five days in prison — 26 years, eight months and one day for each murder. He had pleaded not guilty and testified to not having any animus against the Jesuits or the Catholic Church and even spoke of Father Ellacuria as a friend.