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Former El Salvador military officer faces US torture lawsuit

[JURIST] The civil trial of former El Salvadoran military officer and naturalized US citizen Nicolas Carranza [CJA profile] commenced in US District Court in Memphis Monday. Carranza was vice president of defense and director of the Salvadoran Treasury police during the nations' turbulent 12-year civil war [PBS backgrounder], and stands accused of violating various domestic and international laws, including the Torture Victim Protection Act [text], by facilitating a "deliberate reign of state terror" with the "widespread and systematic" use of torture and murder. The lawsuit [amended complaint, PDF], filed by family members of those killed during the war, alleges that Carranza "exercised command responsibility over subordinates in the Security Forces of El Salvador" who murdered their family members. The Salvadoran citizens filed the case in federal court in accordance with the Alien Tort Claims Act [HRW overview], which allows foreign victims of serious human rights abuse abroad to sue perpetrators in US court. AP has more.

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