Spain sentences ex-colonel to 133 prison years for five Jesuit priests slain in El Salvador

Former Salvadoran Col. Inocente Orlando Montano
Former Salvadoran military Col. Inocente Orlando Montano in 2013.
(Steven Senne / Associated Press)

A court in Spain on Friday sentenced a former Salvadoran colonel to 133 years in prison for the slaying of five Spanish priests in El Salvador more than three decades ago.

Spain’s National Court ruled that Inocente Orlando Montano, a former colonel who served as El Salvador’s vice minister for public security during the country’s 1979-1992 civil war, was responsible for the 1989 “terrorist assassinations.”

Montano, 77, listened from a wheelchair as judges read the verdict, which sentenced him to 26 years, eight months and one day in prison for each of the deaths. The verdict can be appealed.

The U.S. extradited Montano to Spain in 2017. During his trial earlier this year, Montano denied having taken part in or ordering the massacre that led to the death of eight people on the campus of the Central American University. Six of the dead were priests, five of whom were Spanish nationals. They and their housekeeper and her young daughter were rousted from bed by soldiers during a guerrilla offensive in the Salvadoran capital and killed.

Five of the victims were Spanish Jesuit priests, including one of the leading minds behind the influential teachings known as liberation theology, Rev. Ignacio Ellacuría.