September 30, 2000

El Salvador, magistrate will not reopen case of slain Jesuit priests

                  SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) -- A magistrate has rejected an appeal to
                  reopen the case of six priests and two women who were slain during the
                  country's 12-year civil war, local media reported Saturday.

                  The Jesuit-run Universidad Centroamericana had filed a complaint alleging that
                  several army generals were involved in planning the murder of six priests and two
                  women in 1989, and that former President Alfredo Cristiani and other officials did
                  nothing to prevent it.

                  Magistrate Belisario Artiga said he could not reopen the case because of an
                  amnesty law approved in 1992, two months after peace accords were signed,
                  prevents the prosecution of soldiers, guerrillas and civilians for any atrocities
                  committed from 1980 to 1990, local media reported.

                  Cristiani, who left office in 1994, had said that he was willing to face trial if
                  prosecutors accept the university's demand to reopen the case. The six priests,
                  who worked at the university, allegedly had been suspected of sympathy for the
                  country's rebel movement.

                  Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.