"... 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".

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.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8586560.stm