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US jury finds ex-Salvadoran colonel liable for murder, awards $2 million

[JURIST] A US federal court jury Friday found against a former Salvadoran Army colonel [CJA press release], holding him responsible for murder and torture carried out during the El Salvador civil war [PBS backgrounder] in the 1980s. The jury heard a lawsuit [CJA legal documents] filed by five Salvadoran citizens who alleged they were tortured or had family members killed by soldiers who served under Nicolas Carranza [CJA profile], the top commander of El Salvador's security forces during the war. A verdict was reached in favor of four of the five accusers with the jury awarding $500,000 in compensatory damages to each plaintiff. The lawsuit accused Carranza, who moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1985, of allowing crimes against humanity during the war. The Salvadorans were able to bring their case in a US court [JURIST report] under the Alien Tort Claims Act [HRW overview], which allows foreign victims of serious human rights abuse abroad to sue perpetrators in federal court. The jury will continue deliberations on the fifth case and will also consider awarding punitive damages to the plaintiffs. AP has more.

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