Page 2, 24th July 1981

24th July 1981
Page 2
Page 2, 24th July 1981 — 2 CATHOLIC HERALD, Friday, 24 July, 1981

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Locations: San Salvador, Salvador


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2 CATHOLIC HERALD, Friday, 24 July, 1981

New evidence .points to concerted assassination ,plot in El Salvador

Military may have ordered nuns' killings

By Christopher Rails EVIDENCE on the murders of four American nuns in El Salvador last December, including an intercepted radio transmission, suggests that the murders may have been specifically ordered and carried out by Salvadorean military forces.

In a recent interview, Mr Robert White, . the former US Amba.ssador to El Salvador, revealed that several weeks after the murders "a high-ranking Christian Democrat in the Salvadorean government" came to him with,a radio transmission intercepted the "-day of the murders.

The tape had been leaked by a military source opposed to the violence. It was a conversation between two security force units near San Salvador airport, recorded shortly before two of the nuns arrived from Nicaragua. It included the sentence: "No. she didn't arrive on that flight: we'll have to wait for the next".

Mr White said it was a "legitimate inference" that the message referred to Sr ha Ford, who, he said. may have been singled out for execution for distributing food and medicine and protecting refugees in the , Chalatenango province north of San Salvador.

He said the intercepted message was a lead, because if more than one military unit was involved it V/ ould indicate a controlled military operation.

Mr White became convinced that the Salvadorean military were stonewalling to protect superior officers. He said they feared "that this would crack the military wide open: it could even cause the government to fall". Mr White was sacked by President Reagan after handling the investigation into the nun's deaths for only a month.

In a recent Sunday homily. Bishop Arturo Rivera y Damas, apostolic administrator of San Salvador. said little progress had been made in the investigation of the murders. He also accused security forces of recent mass killings including those of 28 peasants found near Chalatenango and about 70 persons who had been forced from their homes and executed.

Mr Alexander Haig, US Secretary of State. said in a letter to a Catholic newspaper last week that the Catholic church in El Salvador does not support the "radical left".

Writing in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St Paul. Minnesota, Mr Haig referred to "the increasingly frequent statements of Salvadoran church leaders vigorously condemning the violence of the left, along with that of the right... He said that because of these statements, Bishop Rivera y Dames "has now come under public criticism from the extreme left".

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