Salvadoran Jesuits may take case of slain priests to Spanish court
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) -- Frustrated by another setback in efforts
to punish the killers of six priests, Jesuit leaders here are threatening to take the
issue to a Spanish court.
"We are trying to air the case in El Salvador to prove that it is possible
done, or to show why justice is not possible," said Rodolfo Cardenal, vice rector
of the Jesuit-run Jose Simeon Canas Central American University.
Speaking late Monday, Cardenal said that the university, where the priests
worked, might bring the case to the Interamerican Court of Justice or to a
Spanish court, such as the one that brought charges against former Chilean
dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Earlier Monday, Judge Elmer Chavarria rejected the national prosecutor's
to reopen the case, calling the motion "without legal foundation."
But he did not close the door to such a move. He said the prosecution should
"begin an investigation of the case" to seek new evidence before bringing it to the
The priests -- five from Spain and one from El Salvador -- were shot to
an army commando unit along with two university employees on Nov. 16, 1989,
during the country's 12-year civil war. They apparently were suspected of
sympathizing with leftist rebels.
Nine members of an anti-rebel commando force were accused. A jury absolved
seven of the suspects in 1991. Two others were convicted, but then freed under
an amnesty ordered by then-President Alfredo Cristiani in 1992 at the end of the
The Jesuit university had asked prosecutors to reopen the case to probe
higher-ranking officers and Cristiani, who they said must have known about or
could have blocked the killings.
Prosecutors at first refused to try to reopen the case, saying the amnesty
made it moot. But the supreme court later said lower-ranking judges would have
the authority to decide if the case should be reopened.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.