US

Prosecutors dispute Salvadoran colonel's health care claims

A former Salvadoran colonel housed in a Virginia jail and wanted by Spain in the deaths of six clergymen is receiving adequate medical care and should remain imprisoned, prosecutors have argued in a legal filing.

The filing late Thursday came hours after Judge Terrence Boyle demanded more information on the medical treatment of Inocente Orlando Montano Morales, threatening to release him while the case unfolds if he didn't get a satisfactory update. Even after reviewing that four-page response, Boyle ordered authorities on Friday to provide a more detailed assessment of the health of the 75-year-old bladder cancer survivor.

Montano was recently moved to a Virginia jail from North Carolina while he awaits a decision on whether he can be extradited to face charges he helped plot the 1989 killings of six Jesuit priests during El Salvador's civil war.

Prosecutors said in their filing that a jail physician assessed Montano on May 10 shortly after he arrived at Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Virginia, and that he's received proper treatment since then. They say they can ramp up care if the health staff determines he needs it.

To explain why Montano's blood sugar wasn't tested for several days, prosecutors wrote that Montano's oral diabetes medicine doesn't require daily measurements.

The filing also said Montano wasn't correctly using a device to collect waste after bladder cancer surgery, which is why he has soiled himself.

Defense attorneys said in a filing earlier this week that Montano was too weak to help himself to the toilet in his cell, and jailers ignored repeated requests for assistance.

Spain is seeking to try Montano on murder charges in the killings of the priests, most of whom were from Spain. Montano's extradition was approved last year by a federal magistrate judge, but Boyle is reviewing a challenge by Montano's lawyers.

Montano's health concerns, described by Boyle as "life-threatening," raise questions of whether he will live long enough to face trial. At a May court hearing, a hunched-over and pale Montano had to be wheeled into the courtroom.

Boyle previously tried to send Montano to a prison hospital, but the U.S. Marshals Service instead moved him to the Virginia jail. Authorities said the prison hospital had a waiting list for beds, among other obstacles.

Piedmont Regional Jail's website boasts of low daily costs for housing prisoners. But it has also come under scrutiny, including a 2013 settlement agreement with the Justice Department requiring it to improve medical care.

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