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During the civil war, the military regime accused the Jesuit Order of being subversive.
Former lieutenant Rene Mendoza confirmed that El Salvador's ex-President Alfredo Cristiani (1989-1994) approved the murder of Father Jose Ellacuria and his collaborators at the Central American University (UCA) in 1989.
In the trial being carried out in Spain, the lawyers explicitly asked Mendoza whether he could confirm if Cristiani consented and approved the decision to kill the Jesuits.
"According to Colonel Benavides' order, there was no counter order because the President had to have approved it," Mendoza said during his testimony in a trial whose only accused is the Salvadoran ex-colonel Inocente Montano.
The accused could face up to 150 years in prison, "30 years for each of the five 'terrorist murder acts'' against the Spanish priests Ignacio Ellacuria, Ignacio Martin, Segundo Montes, Amando Lopez, and Juan Moreno," the local outlet Tribuna Valladolid explained.
#CasoJesuitas | El exteniente Yusshy Mendoza manifestó hoy, en Madrid, que el diputado @rodolfo_parker, en aquel entonces abogado, le pidió cambiar sus declaraciones.
Former lieutenant Rene Mendoza today said that lawmaker Rodolfo Parker, who was a lawyer at the time, requested him to change his statements. "You cannot mention anyone other than Benavides and the Atlacatl Battalion member," he said.
On Nov. 16, 1989, members of the US-trained Atlacatl Battalion executed six Jesuit priests at the UCA, an institution whose rector was Father Ellacuria. The then Public Security Vice Minister Montano accused the Jesuit Order of being subversive.
"The Jesuits killing occurred amidst an intense polarization between El Salvador's military regime and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN)," the Tribuna Valladolid recalled.
"The priests emerged as mediators between the two sides for a process of dialogue. Due to their affinity with the liberation theology, they were accused of inciting farmers to 'an international communist conspiracy'," it added.