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Warrants for Ex-Salvadoran Commanders in French Nurse’s Slaying

April 28, 1995 GMT

PARIS (AP) _ A court has issued international arrest warrants against the former head of El Salvador’s air force and three others accused of ordering the torture and murder of a French nurse in 1989, court sources said Friday.

The body of Madeleine Lagadec, a 27-year-old nurse with the volunteer group Doctors Without Borders, was found among the ruins of a rural hospital that had been bombed by special Salvadoran military forces.

The hospital in San Idelfonso, southeast of San Salvador, had treated wounded guerrillas fighting U.S.-backed government troops. Salvadoran officials said Ms. Lagadec was killed during the bombing.


Her body was returned to France, where an autopsy revealed that she had been shot repeatedly and that her left hand had been cut off.

In 1992, a U.N. inquiry concluded Ms. Lagadec had been ``raped, tortured and assassinated by soldiers from the Salvadoran air force.″

The case was dismissed a year later for lack of information concerning the identity of her torturers.

Last year a criminal court in Rennes ordered a new investigation. A U.N.-sponsored fact-finding mission working in El Salvador turned up numerous witnesses who identified retired Gen. Juan Bustillo, who was then head of the Salvadoran air force, as having ordered Ms. Lagadec’s interrogation.

Also charged are retired Gen. Rafael Villamariona, who was Bustillo’s deputy; Lt. Col. Gustavo Perdomo Hernandez, ex-head of special forces, and retired Lt. Col. Rene Rodriguez Hurtado, a paratrooper commander.

Court sources said Ms. Lagadec was tortured by the officers to find out what she knew about the leftist rebels.

All but Perdomo have retired since the killing, said El Salvador’s vice defense minister, Gen. Jose Alexander Mendez. He said he was unaware of the charges.

Bustillo, contacted by The Associated Press in El Salvador, denied he knew Ms. Lagadec and called the charges ``defamation.″

The Rennes court issued the arrest warrants Thursday, court sources said on condition of anonymity.

The French Justice Ministry said the court had not yet forwarded its arrest warrants to Paris, and thus no decision had been made whether France would seek the extradition of the four men.