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Former Guerrilla Freed in ‘Zona Rosa’ Massacre

August 19, 1993

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) _ A jury found a former guerrilla innocent in the 1985 ″Zona Rosa″ massacre in which four U.S. Embassy Marine guards and two other Americans were killed.

The government said it would appeal Wednesday’s acquittal, and a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said the United States disagreed with the verdict but would respect it.

Juan Antonio Lucero Morales had been charged in the deaths of six Americans, a Guatemalan and a Chilean in a rebel attack on a cafe in the capital’s trendy ″Zona Rosa,″ or ″Pink Zone,″ during the civil war.

Five Salvadorans also died in the June 19, 1985, attack.

Three other guerrillas were convicted earlier and sentenced to terms ranging from four to 20 years. Two have completed their sentences and are free.

″We were extremely disillusioned with the decision in this case,″ said U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Sonja Sweek. ″However we respect the independence of the Salvadoran judicial system even though we disagree with the verdict.″

Lucero Morales was the last guerrilla charged in the case. His lawyers had failed earlier to free him under an amnesty for war criminals that was approved in March.

Lucero Morales said he and the other three rebels of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front cruised the ″Zona Rosa″ for three nights before they spotted the Marines at the cafe, got out of their vehicle and opened fire.

He said he did not shoot, but only provided security for the attack.

On Tuesday, El Salvador’s Supreme Court denied amnesty to two former National Guard soldiers convicted in the 1980 murder of four American churchworkers, including three nuns.

The government of President Alfredo Cristiani and the rebel front signed a peace accord in Mexico City on Jan. 16, 1992, to end the 12-year civil war, in which more than 75,000 people died.

08-19-93 0419EDT

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