After a 9-year-long legal battle, on November 29 2017, we witnessed the arrival of Salvadoran Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano to Spain, having been extradited by the US Government for his role in the Jesuits massacre. In Spain, Montano faces charges of murder and terrorism. Montano made his first appearance before the Spanish National Court on November 30 2017, and on December 4, he provided testimony by answering the questions posed by his lawyer. After these court sessions, Judge Manuel García Castellón ordered Montano’s unconditional pre-trial detention.
Montano’s arrival in Spain marks the beginning of a long-awaited trial after 28 years of impunity for this emblematic crime. This trial will bring not only justice for the relatives, but hopes to thousands of Salvadorans. More generally speaking, this trial will provide international criminal law with a new opportunity to develop legal principles related to universal justice. The Jesuits case will be one of the few trials ever to take place on European soil under universal jurisdiction provisions, and the second in Spain. Alongside Spanish criminal lawyer Manuel Ollé Sesé, Guernica will lead the litigation process before the Spanish National Court. For us, the priority will be, not only to successfully litigate the case, but to do so in a way that is meaningful and serves to impact on the situation in El Salvador today. After the revocation of the Amnesty Law, few cases in El Salvador have the potential to be prosecuted. Several colleagues and organizations in El Salvador have requested Guernica’s assistance with some of the technical aspects of their litigation. To properly support our colleagues, Guernica has hired Jimmy Ortiz an extraordinarily gifted and dedicated young Salvadoran attorney in an effort to train our local partner, develop capacity, and make sure that the trial advances that which we are seeking to achieve in El Salvador.