U.S. sentences Salvadoran linked to massacre for immigration fraud

US EL SALVADOR

One of 15 Salvadoran military men indicted in Spain for the 1989 murders of five Spanish Jesuits in the Central American nation was sentenced to 21 months in prison for lying on his U.S. immigration documents. Retired Col. Inocente Orlando Montano, 71, will begin serving his sentence on Oct. 11. EFE/File
One of 15 Salvadoran military men indicted in Spain for the 1989 murders of five Spanish Jesuits in the Central American nation was sentenced to 21 months in prison for lying on his U.S. immigration documents. Retired Col. Inocente Orlando Montano, 71, will begin serving his sentence on Oct. 11. EFE/File

— One of 15 Salvadoran military men indicted in Spain for the 1989 murders of five Spanish Jesuits in the Central American nation was sentenced Tuesday to 21 months in prison for lying on his U.S. immigration documents.

Retired Col. Inocente Orlando Montano, 71, pleaded guilty almost a year ago and will begin serving his sentence on Oct. 11.

Montano successfully applied in 2002 for Temporary Protected Status, a benefit the U.S. government extends to migrants from countries battered by natural disasters or internal conflict.

Documents presented in court showed he concealed his Salvadoran military service on the initial TPS application and on subsequent applications for renewal.

U.S. authorities later learned that Montano had been part of an army unit blamed for a number of atrocities during El Salvador's 19801992 civil war, including the slaughter of six Jesuit priests and two other people at the Central American University, or UCA.

Prosecutors sought a jail term of more than four years on the immigration charges, arguing that Montano came to the United States, at least in part, to avoid prosecution in El Salvador for the UCA killings.

But defense attorney Oscar Cruz said his client had no reason to fear such a prosecution because he was protected by a 1993 amnesty for civilwar crimes.

Prior to sentencing, U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock asked federal prosecutor John Capin about the status of Spain's request to extradite Montano.

The prosecution in Spain stems from the nationality of five of the slain priests and from the principle of "universal jurisdiction," the same doctrine that led to the 1998 arrest in Britain of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on the orders of Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon.

On Nov. 16, 1989, Salvadoran soldiers invaded the UCA campus in San Salvador and killed thenchancellor Ignacio Ellacuria and four other Spanish priests: Segundo Montes, Ignacio MartinBaro, Amando Lopez and Juan Ramon Moreno, along with Salvadoran Jesuit Joaquin Lopez.

Also slain were a cook and her 16yearold daughter.

Only two of the 14 members of the Salvadoran military who stood trial in September 1991 for the murders were found guilty. Though sentenced to 30 years in prison, they were released thanks to the 1993 amnesty.