The Miami Herald
December 14, 2000

No new trial set in deaths of 6 Jesuits

Ex-Salvadoran president won't be charged in priests' murders

 SAN SALVADOR -- (AP) -- A Salvadoran judge has decided not to try
 ex-President Alfredo Cristiani and six generals in the killings of six Jesuit priests
 in 1989.

 Justice Ana Rodríguez ruled Tuesday night that it was too late to pursue the
 case. The statute of limitations to pursue criminal cases under Salvadoran law is
 10 years.

 ``Although it has been said that I was pressured [to rule a certain way], my
 decision adheres completely to the law,'' Rodríguez said.

 The Jesuit community of Central America University, where the priests worked
 and which filed the lawsuit, said it would appeal.

 The priests, five Spaniards and a Salvadoran, were shot to death by an army
 commando unit along with their housekeeper and her daughter on Nov. 16, 1989,
 during the country's 12-year civil war.

 The priests reportedly were targeted for their writings, among other reasons, at a
 time when Roman Catholic lay and religious workers were speaking out against
 the U.S.-backed Salvadoran government.

 A U.S. congressional investigation found they had been roused from their beds
 and shot by soldiers.

 Nine members of an anti-rebel commando force were accused.

 A jury absolved seven of the suspects in 1991. Two others were convicted but
 were then freed under an amnesty ordered by then-President Cristiani.

 The Jesuits claimed Cristiani and the others must have known about or could
 have blocked the killings.