The New York Times
April 24, 2000

Salvadoran Prelate Asks Release of Killers


          SAN SALVADOR, April 23 -- In a plea for compassion,
          Archbishop Fernando Sáenz asked the government today to
          pardon two former soldiers convicted of raping and killing three
          American nuns and a social worker in 1980.

          The two former national guardsmen have served 19 years of their
          30-year sentences. "Let us have mercy and pity for them. They have
          demonstrated their repentance," the archbishop said.

          Five former soldiers were convicted of the December 1980 rape and
          murder of three Roman Catholic nuns -- Ita Ford, Maura Clark and
          Dorothy Kazel -- and a social worker, Jean Donovan.

          The three other soldiers were freed in 1998 under a law to relieve prison
          crowding. They said they had killed the women on the orders of
          superiors who were never prosecuted. The two remaining servicemen
          were not eligible because of misconduct in prison.

          The victims' families, who filed suit last May against the former defense
          minister and the former director general of the National Guard accusing
          them of having covered up the killings, believe the women were attacked
          because officials suspected they sympathized with leftist guerrillas.