School of Americas Protesters Sentenced Print
Sixteen protesters were given prison terms Monday ranging from one to six months for trespassing during an annual demonstration against a military school they blame for human rights abuses in Latin America.

The demonstrators, ages 17 to 71, appeared before U.S. Magistrate G. Mallon Faircloth to enter pleas to the misdemeanor. They were accused of illegally entering on Nov. 19 the Army's Fort Benning, which houses the institution formerly called the School of the Americas.

The protest, which draws thousands, was organized by the School of Americas Watch 17 years ago. It is timed to commemorate six Jesuit priests who were killed along with their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador on Nov. 19, 1989.

Some of the killers had attended the school, which moved to Fort Benning from Panama in 1984 and was replaced in 2001 by the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, under the Defense Department.

The military has acknowledged that some graduates committed crimes after attending but says no cause-and-effect relationship has ever been established.

One defendant pleaded not guilty and received a 60-day sentence; the rest pleaded guilty. None of the 16 have to report to jail until notified by the federal Bureau of Prisons.