A judge has ruled that a former Salvadoran colonel can be extradited to Spain to face charges that he helped plan the slayings of priests in 1989 during El Salvador's civil war.
United States Magistrate Judge Kimberly Swank granted the government's extradition request for Inocente Orlando Montano Morales in a ruling filed Friday.
Swank ordered that U.S. Marshals take custody of Montano so he can be turned over to Spain, pending final approval by the Secretary of State.The United States recently deported two retired generals to El Salvador following legal investigations that showed that they had been involved in human rights violations during the 1980s. A Spanish court has also asked that Salvadoran authorities detain soldiers alleged to have been involved in the Jesuit murders. Authorities have not moved against any of the military officials because of the amnesty and because the FMLN government does not want to get caught up in being at the forefront of transitional justice efforts. There are some in the FMLN who are pushing for justice - just not those at the top who might be targets as well (Salvadoran Sanchez Ceren).
Given positive developments in Guatemala with regards to transitional justice and the actions of the US and Spanish governments, one gets the impression that it is only a matter of time before the wall of impunity is broken in El Salvador. It's not inevitable and will require a great deal of struggle and courage. They just need a few judges and lawyers with the people behind them to kick the door open.
Okay, that's a lot.
But I'm hoping my February 2013 post on Can El Salvador continue to resist calls to investigate war time atrocities? is eventually answered with a no.
What can the US, an accomplice to many of the crimes, do? I'd say that it can continue to detain, extradite, and deport those former military officials involved in civil war-era crimes. It can provide classified information to investigators.
Like Guatemala, it can accompany victims and survivors in their pursuit of justice. It can also provide support to those who take up the struggle in El Salvador as those who have investigated civil war era crimes have previously been threatened (Tutela Legal).
It can also investigate and prosecute if deemed necessary those Americans who were intimately involved in the planning and execution of war crimes and crimes against humanity in El Salvador. At a minimum, it should come clean about its role.