WASHINGTON (CNS) — A 34-year-old sacristan is in the custody of Salvadoran authorities in connection with the May killing of a Salvadoran priest.
Abraham Heriberto Mestizo made an initial court appearance June 14 after being formally accused by officials in Sonsonate of being involved in the killing of 35-year-old Father Cecilio Perez Cruz, found fatally shot May 18 at home.
In a press release, El Salvador’s National Civil Police said Mestizo was the sacristan at San Jose La Majada parish in Juayua, in the western part of El Salvador, where the priest was the pastor, but the statement did not explain why he was linked to the crime.
Some initially suspected the priest had been killed by gangs, a common crime in the Central American country. The Archdiocese of San Salvador and other members of the Catholic Church voiced suspicions that the priest had been killed because of his support of the environment; he had recently criticized the cutting of trees nearby.
In a short video clip disseminated by various online news sites on June 14, Mestizo appears before cameras saying: “Let justice be done, whoever did these things.” Outside the place where he was being held, a crowd of parishioners from San Jose de La Majada prayed in the street and said the sacristan was innocent, Salvadoran news agencies reported. Police said he had been captured June 10 but did not face formal charges until four days later.
Shortly after the murder of Father Perez, Catholic Church officials demanded that justice be carried out since the killing of another priest in 2018 remains unsolved. From the archbishop of San Salvador to human rights groups connected to the Catholic Church, all called for an investigation of the crime.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103