The Miami Herald
January 28, 2000
El Salvador's president doesn't believe new general killed French nurse

 SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador -- (AP) -- Human rights groups are protesting the
 appointment of a general they say oversaw the slaying of a French nurse and four
 others during El Salvador's civil war.

 The National Center for the Promotion of Human Rights has continually asserted
 that on April 15, 1989, Gustavo Adolfo Perdomo ordered his men to execute
 Madeleine Lagadec and four other people at a rural hospital in El Salvador's
 Tortugal region of the central San Vicente province.

 Perdomo, a lifelong military bureaucrat, directed a special governmental battalion
 during the 12-year civil war, during which government forces battled leftist

 President Francisco Flores, who recently promoted Perdomo to general,
 responded to the charges Thursday, saying that the French government has
 cleared the general of any wrongdoing and has not objected to his appointment.

 In 1994, a French judge requested that Salvadoran authorities look into Perdomo's
 involvement and that of another general in Lagadec's death, but the request was
 denied because the officers were protected by an amnesty that was part of the
 peace agreement signed in January 1992.

 Flores did admit, however, that an unidentified French judge recently had
 contacted the Salvadoran Supreme Court in hopes of having the court review the
 case. But such a request violates international convention and can't be honored,
 Flores said.

 In France, officials in the office of French Judge Renaud Van Ruymbecke said this
 week that the judge was ready to deploy a team of French investigators to El
 Salvador to aid the Supreme Court in its review of the case.

 Flores defended Perdomo's record as a military leader, saying there ``was never
 any credible evidence that he was responsible for the crime.''

 But a 1989 report produced by the Salvadoran Truth Commission implicates
 Perdomo in the killings. It details a military offensive known as ``Operation
 Lightning,'' in which Salvadoran soldiers followed up the bombing of the Tortugal
 region by deploying specialized groups of troops, including the one led by
 Perdomo, with orders to kill any wounded people they encountered.

                     Copyright 2000 Miami Herald