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Saturday, 4 April, 1998, 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK
Murder of nuns in El Salvador was ordered, say soldiers

The American State Department says the government of El Salvador must investigate fully any new evidence relating to the murder of three American nuns and a lay missionary there eighteen years ago.

Four Salvadoran soldiers, convicted of the crimes in 1984, now say they were following orders from senior officers.

Their admission was made in interviews by the New York-based Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, which represents the victims' families.

El Salvador and the United States have always said the men acted on their own.

The killings, which happened during El Salvador's decade-long civil war, became the focus of a bitter debate in the US about Washington's policy on Central America.

The Lawyers Committee has also asked the US authorities to investigate how the former head of the Salvadoran National Guard was allowed to become a US resident, despite evidence that he was involved in a cover-up of the murders.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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