Official to seek release of soldier imprisoned for killing U.S. nuns
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) -- El Salvador's attorney general says he
will fight for the release of one of two former soldiers still imprisoned for the
1980 slaying of four U.S. religious workers, local media reported Saturday.
Attorney General Miguel Cardoza said Francisco Orlando Contreras has changed
and that he would push to have him released, local media reported Saturday. The
Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the former soldier's petition because it
believed he had not been rehabilitated.
A former member of the country's National Guard, Contreras was one of five
men sentenced to 30 years in prison in 1984 for the slayings of nuns Ita Ford,
Maura Clarke and Dorothy Kazel, and layworker Jean Donovan during the
country's civil war.
The women had been detained at a highway checkpoint in December 1980 while
headed to the capital from the nearby international airport. Their bullet-riddled
bodies were found a day later. They apparently had been raped.
Three of the men were freed in 1998 for good behavior under a law that
some sentences to ease prison overcrowding. Contreras and Carlos Joaquin
Contreras Palacios were kept in prison because they had participated in a prison
Families of the victims said they believe the women were targeted because
officials suspected they sympathized with leftist guerrillas during the war.
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