Monday, July 11, 2005

Possible reinstatement of Salvadoran generals verdict

In February 2005, the United States Court of Appeals in Atlanta reversed a 2002 verdict which awarded $54.6 million in damages to three victims of torture during the civil war in El Salvador. In July 2002, a federal jury in Miami had found that Gens. Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova and Jose Guillermo Garcia had command responsibility for massacres and other acts of brutality against civilians during the war. The two now live in the United States. The appeals court initially overturned the verdict, however, on the grounds that the case was brought outside of the 10 year statute of limitations of the Torture Victims Protection Act. At the time, I had some comments on the decision.

The US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has now acknowledged that it may have been mistaken about some of the dates which led it to overturn the jury's verdict on statute of limitations grounds. The Court issued a letter asking the parties to submit briefs over the impact of the correct dates. The letter suggests that the verdict in favor of some of the plaintiff torture victims against Carlos Vides-Casanova could be reinstated.

The Salvadoran generals case was brought by the Center for Justice and Accountability. Its next case, seeking to bring accountability for crimes during El Salvador's civil war, goes to trial in Memphis, Tennessee in October 2005. The case is brought by several Salvadorans against former Salvadoran military commander Nicolas Carranza for torture and extrajudicial killing.

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