Page last updated at 08:38 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

Official El Salvador apology for Oscar Romero's murder

President Mauricio Funes (centre) stands by the mural of Archbishop Romero at El Salvador airport
President Funes said he was seeking forgiveness on behalf of the State

El Salvador's President Mauricio Funes has issued an official apology for the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero by a right-wing death squad 30 years ago.

Mr Funes, the first left-wing leader since the country's civil war ended in 1992, said Archbishop Romero was a "victim of illegal violence".

Archbishop Romero was shot dead as he celebrated Mass on 24 March 1980.

He was a champion of the poor and had made repeated calls for an end to political violence in El Salvador.

Archbishop Oscar Romero - file photo
1977: Appointed Archbishop of San Salvador
1979: Bloodless coup by reformist army officers; military-civilian junta installed but army-backed violence continues
February 1980: Romero urges US President Jimmy Carter to reconsider offer of aid to junta. Carter refuses
23 Mar 1980: Romero tells soldiers they are killing their own people
24 Mar 1980: Romero murdered in church

"I am seeking pardon in the name of the state," Mr Funes said as he unveiled a mural honouring Oscar Romero at El Salvador's international airport.

The archbishop, he said, was a victim of right-wing death squads "who unfortunately acted with the protection, collaboration or participation of state agents".

In 1993 a United Nations-sponsored truth commission concluded the archbishop's assassination was carried out by a death squad under the orders of Roberto D'Aubuisson, a former army officer who died in 1992.

He founded the Nationalist Republican Alliance, or Arena Party, which governed El Salvador from 1989 until 2009.

Arena never accepted the commission's findings.

No-one has ever been convicted in connection with Archbishop Romero's murder.

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Los Angeles Times El Salvador publicly marks Archbishop Romero's killing - 31 hrs ago
New York Times El Salvador Leader Apologizes for Archbishops Assassination - 33 hrs ago
Washington Post Salvadoran leader apologizes for bishop's killing - 37 hrs ago
MSNBC Newsweek The Vatican Should Remember Victims of Oppression - 44 hrs ago

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