Alex Constantine - March 25, 2010
"... The archbishop, he said, was a victim of right-wing death squads 'who unfortunately acted with the protection, collaboration or participation of state agents' ..."
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.
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
He was a champion of the poor and had made repeated calls for an end to political violence in El Salvador.
"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.