• Nenad Vucijak

The Jesuit Massacre Trial

Colonel Inocente Monano Convicted of the Massacre of Six Jesuit Priests and Two Civilians


After more than 31 years waiting for justice and more than 12 years actively working on the case to trial, today a former member of Salvadoran military high command, Colonel Inocente Montano was found guilty of the massacre of six jesuits priests and two women in El Salvador in 1989. In a detailed and methodically written judgment of 128 pages, the Spanish National Criminal Court confirmed that the Salvadoran Armed Forces committed the crime of state terrorism when it orchestrated and ordered the killing of Fathers Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín-Baró, Amando López, Joaquín López y López, Juan Ramón Moreno, Segundo Montes, their housekeeper Elba Julia Ramos, and her daughter, Celina Maricet Ramos.

Almudena Bernabeu, co founder of The Guernica Group led the private prosecution with Spanish co-counsel Manuel Olle Sese. The extraordinary journey of this litigation saw the first extradition from the United States of America to Spain of a foreign perpetrator for an international crime, which secured a trial that, despite the challenges of the pandemic, took place in June and July and was live-streamed internationally, allowing the victims, their families and all people in El Salvador to access the historic trial proceedings.

The Court handed down thoroughly detailed judgment with a significant sentence that provides justice for a crime that, despite the efforts of the victims and their community, impunity prevailed. This trial process changed that.

From Guernica we want to express our most sincere gratitude to the families of the victims, to the witnesses and their contribution, to the Investigating Judge and to the Court for ensuring that justice prevailed. This ruling also shows that Universal Jurisdiction is a crucial, and very much alive, tool for victims of international crimes and human rights violations and in many instances, the only one possible. We must educate ourselves and understand that a judicial truth, the victim’s ability to seek justice in national Courts pursuant to the principle of universal jurisdiction is a fundamental tool of such importance that it can only contribute to protect human rights and serve justice. Today, when we commemorate the terrible military coup in Chile in 1973 with thousands of victims behind and the September 11 terrorist attack in the United States, in a convoluted reality where rights and freedoms are vanishing in front of our very eyes, we have another reason to celebrate, today civil society from El Salvador have shown the world that no matter how long, how great the effort, JUSTICE will be served.

Note: A summary of the judgment will be published in due course. Please follow The Guernica Centre for International Justice dedicated section on the Jesuit Massacre Trial for more updates.

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