Jesuit Massacre War Crime Suspect Faces Mass. Perjury Charge

A former Salvadoran military officer accused of being involved in the deaths of six Jesuit priests in 1989 has been charged in Massachusetts with lying under oath and making false statements on immigration forms to remain in the United States.

Inocente Orlando Montano was among 20 Salvadorans indicted in Spain this year for the Jesuit killings during El Salvador's 12-year civil war. The 69-year-old was found living in Everett, Mass., thanks to the efforts of a San Francisco-based human rights organization Justice and Accountability, who found the former officer living under his own name, the Boston Globe reported in August.

He was charged Tuesday in a U.S. federal court in Boston with lying about his military history and role in the deaths of the Jesuit priests in a bid to secure a temporary protected status in the U.S. A trial date has yet to be set.

Montano has denied involvement in the slayings. His attorney hasn't returned a phone call to the Associated Press seeking comment.

The Jesuit massacre, as it became known, took place on Nov. 16, 1989 in El Salvador, which at the time was deep into a brutal civil war. Six Jesuit priests, a cook and her 16-year-old daughter were shot and killed by Salvadoran military members. Photos of slain priests were publicized worldwide causing international outrage especially from human rights groups.

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It is thought that a staggering 75,000 people died in the conflict between government forces and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) guerrilla group.

A United Nations "truth commission" that investigated the clergy killings released a report in 1993 that named Montano, a former government vice minister of public safety, as one of the top leaders who participated in a meeting to plot the assassination of Father Ignacio Ellacuria, the university's record, the Boston Globe reported.

"On the night of 15 November 1989, then Colonel René Emilio Ponce, in the presence of an in collusion with General Juan Rafael Bustillo, then Colonel Juan Orlando Zepeda, Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano and Colonel Francisco Elena Fuentes, gave Colonel Guillermo Alfredo Benavides the order to kill Father Ignacio Ellacuría and to leave no witnesses," the report states.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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