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April 10, 1998     The Message
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April 10, 1998
 

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Killers say Salvador military ordered 1980 nuns' WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Seventeen years after four U.S. churchwomen were murdered in El Salvador, the national guardsmen convicted of the crime have said they acted on orders from their military superiors. Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel and lay missionary Jean Donovan were kidnapped, raped and shot dead Dec. 2, 1980. Their bodies were found alongside a road the next day. The New York Times report- ed April 3 that in recent inter- views with the New York- Lawyers Committee for Human Rights -- which represents the families of the victims -- and with the newspaper, the former guardsmen admitted being ordered to kill the women, con- tradicting previous claims by the U.S. and Salvadoran gov- ernments that they acted alone. State Department spokesman James E Rubin said April 3 the Salvadoran government should vigorously investigate any new evidence. The United States has officially supported the conclu- sion of a U.S. federal judge who investigated in 1983 and agreed with the Salvadoran claim that the four guardsmen acted on their own. After an investigation, the four national guardsmen were convicted of murder in 1984 and sentenced to 30 years in prison. The Times quoted one of the guardsmen as saying they were told not to worry about being charged in the women's deaths Count on us for professional medical care, any time of the day or night. IBII IIHOSPITAL 1314 Grand Avenue Washington, Indiana 47501 (812) 254-2760 www.dchosp.org because their superior had orders to kill them. None of the four identified specific higher-level officers as being responsible. Their imme- diate supervisor, Luis Antonio Colindres Aleman, a sub- sergeant, was convicted of mur- der along with them, but he declined to talk to the attorneys or the newspaper. According to the Times, the four said they were pressured to go along with the official stor), covering up the role of high- ranking military officers. A U.N. Truth Commission Report in 1993 concluded that Col. Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, director of the Nation- al Guard in 1980, and Defense Minister Gen. Jose Guillermo Garcia organized an official cover-up of the crime but they were never officially implicated in ordering the events. The Times also reported that both men now live in Florida, which led the Lawyers Com- mittee to insist the State Depart- ment investigate how Vides Casanova was permitted to become a U.S. resident. Although the general was never investigated or prosecut- ed for the crime by Salvadoran authorities, said the Lawyers Committee, "the facts suggest- ing his involvement in the cover-up of the murder of four U.S. citizens were known to the State Department well before he applied to become a resident of the United States .... " "The fact that he was permit- ted to do so," the committee continued, "raises extremely serious questions that warrant an investigation of how this came to pass and whether any U.S. laws were violated in the process." It also asked for the release of classified information in the case, which was cited in the 1983 report by former federal Judge Haro!d R. Tyler as "direct proof" that Colindres Aleman acted on his own. "It has been over 17 years since the churchwomen were murdered, and nearly 14 years since the five guardsmen were tried and convicted of the crime," said Lawyers Commit- tee investigators, R. Scott Great- head and Robert O. Weiner, in a letter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. "We do not believe any com- pelling reason exists to justify any further delay in releasing the 'special embassy evidence' and all other records concerning the churchwomen's case," the letter continued. The brother of Sister Ford, New York lawyer William Ford, told the Times the prisoners' declaration "confirms what we, the families, have always believed and maintained. I've Visiting Nurse Plus, Inc. Supportive services that make a difference. VNP has provide a variety of supportive home health services to area families since 1982. Call us to review a video of our services. VISITING NURSE Evansville Princeton 610 E Walnut St. 108 N First Ave. : (812) 425-0853 (812) 385-3717 uu i i SCHNELLVILLE FOR COMPLETE ELECTRICAL SERVICE FISCHER ELECTRIC INC. SCHNELLVILLE, IN 389-2418 iii ii lU i i i Wal.Mart SuperCenter 40'f North 8urktlardt Road Ph: 812471-8797 EwGms','i, IN 47715 Fax: 812-471-8166 n u i  HAUBSTADT ELECTRIC Licensed Bonded Insured Industrial, Commercial and Residential P.O. Box 405 TONY NAZARIO Haubstadt, (N 47639 812-768-5207 1-800-766-2787 i i WASHINGTON ALIGNMENT Alignment, Brake, Shock, & Strut Service (812) 254-4222 Wally Kaiser CORRESSELL, INC. 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The U.S. ambassador to E1 Salvador at the time of the killings, Robert White, told the Times in March he immediately suspected then-Col. Vides Casanova and his cousin, Col. Oscar Edgardo Casanova Vejar, the local military commander in Zacatecoluca, near the airport where the four women were last seen. "I find it difficult to believe that the U.S. government did not know there was legitimate reason to believe that Casanova and Vides Casanova and Garcia were all guilty of either order- ing or then covering up the killing," White said to the Times. In an April 3 statement, the Maryknoll Sisters said that the information from the guards- men "confirms the conviction of the Maryknoll Sisters Congre- gation and the families of the victims as well as that of former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, Robert White and the report of ii JONES BODY SHOP Front end alignment , Complete body rebuilding Radiator Service Estimates Given Call 254-5358 207 E. 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