Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Romero murderer's driver testifies

Amado Garay testified yesterday in the Modesto, CA, trial against Alvaro Saravia, who allegedly planned the murder of Archbishop Romero together with Roberto D'Aubuisson, founder and revered godfather of the ruling ARENA party in El Salvador. Although Garay had previously testified at a trial in 1987 in El Salvador (the Salvadoran Supreme Court at the time blocked the extradition request to the U.S. for Saravia), this is his first appearance in the U.S., I believe.

This is from a summary provided by the Center for Justice and Accountability, which is prosecuting the case:

Garay was recruited to work as Saravia’s driver by two members of the National Police, Nelson Morales and Nelson Garcia. He often stayed at Saravia’s house because Saravia needed him to arrive at odd hours. On several occasions, Garay drove Morales,Garcia, and other armed men to assassinate people. Sometimes he drove Roberto D’Aubuisson. On one occasion, D’Aubuisson gave Garay his gun to hold when he left the car to go to a meeting. Saravia often said that “the people from the church are the worst enemy.”

On the day of the assassination, as it was getting dark, Garay picked up Saravia at his home and drove to a house with a gate in an upper class neighborhood with two distinctive Marañon trees. Saravia came out of the house with a man. Garay had never
seen him before. He had a beard and spoke Spanish with no accent, like a Salvadoran. Garay saw that the man had a long rifle with a telescopic lens. Saravia told Garay to drive a red Volkswagen with the man as a passenger in the back. Saravia told Garay to follow the man’s instructions about where to go. The man gave Garay driving instructions. A car followed them for their protection.

They came to a church. The shooter said, “I can’t believe I am going to kill a priest.” Garay followed his instructions to drive to the front door of the church, so that both he and the shooter were on the side of the car closest to the door. The shooter said to move forward until he was directly in front of the door. Garay looked into the church. He saw people celebrating mass, kneeling or sitting in the pews, and at the altar he saw a priest. Garay heard the priest talking. The shooter said, “Try to look like you’re fixing something in the car.” So Garay bent down to pretend to work on something. Garay heard a loud shot, and then a lot of screaming. The shooter said, “Calm down, relax, drive slowly to the exit . . . Go slow around and let’s get out of here.”

He drove out the gate and kept driving. He was not familiar with the area and was lost for an hour or more. There was a walkie-talkie in the car, and someone from the other car guided him so that eventually he returned to the house with the Maranon trees. He drove through the gate and the shooter got out of the car. Saravia was waiting. Saravia said, “You killed him. I heard it on the radio.”

Then Saravia, Garay, and Nelson Morales drove to Saravia’s house. Later, Garay drove Saravia to a meeting house in San Salvador. They drove through a big gate and along a long driveway until they came to a building. Roberto D’Aubuisson was there. Saravia went over to D’Aubuisson and said, “Mission accomplished.”

That last bit's the clincher. Write if you'd like to receive daily updates.

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