They were in Washington to respond to proceedings about irregularities in the administration of justice in El Salvador, including issues of impunity. In an odd public statement, designed to change the subject, Salvadoran officials announced their government would ask the Vatican to beatify slain archbishop Oscar Romero:
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP)—The Salvadoran government said Friday it will ask the Vatican to beatify slain Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, but it will not accept responsibility in his 1980 killing.
Security and Justice Vice Minister Astor Escalante announced the decision during a meeting with supporters of the archbishop at the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights' offices in Washington late Wednesday .
Deputy Foreign Minister Eduardo Calix confirmed the decision Friday in an interview with The Associated Press in El Salvador.
"The state can't accept responsibility because there was a clear person responsible for the killing, and that person was tried," Escalante said.
A Salvadoran court found former death squad member Alvaro Saravia guilty of fatally shooting Romero in the late 1980s. Saravia was released from prison with a 1993 amnesty after El Salvador's 1992 peace accords.
Romero was assassinated in 1980 after he urged the military to halt death squads that killed thousands of suspected guerrillas and leftist opponents of the government.
David Morales, a church legal representative in El Salvador, said the decision to support the beatification process was just a "smoke screen" to defer criticism of its decision not to lift the 1993 amnesty.
The U.N. truth commission on El Salvador reported in 1993 that notorious death squad leader, Maj. Roberto D'Aubuisson, ordered Romero killed. D'Aubuisson, who died in 1992, denied that.