[JURIST] A Salvadoran ex-general linked to human rights abuses during El Salvador’s civil war in the 1980s was deported from the US on Wednesday. Former General Eugenio Vides Casanova will not face charges [BBC report] in El Salvador due to an amnesty law. Vides Casanova was tied to killings and torture committed by soldiers under his command, including the deaths of four US churchwomen in 1980. He has lived in Florida since 1989, but he was taken into custody [AP report] after the top US immigration court ruled [JURIST report] that he should be deported. The court decision was brought under a 2004 law designed to keep accused international human rights abusers from seeking refuge in the US. Vides Casanova argues that El Salvador’s military tactics were supported by Washington in the 1980s, as evidenced by the fact he was awarded the US Legion of Merit twice for fighting rebels. He arrived in El Salvador with over 100 other deportees on Wednesday.
The Obama administration charged [JURIST report] Vides Casanova in April 2011 for human rights crimes committed while he served as the country’s top military officer. The US brought this case as the first against a foreign military officer who faced immigration charges by a special humans rights office at the Department of Homeland Security [official site]. In February 2012 a federal immigration judge in Florida decided that he could be deported for the crimes. In April of the following year, the US Department of Justice released a revised ruling [JURIST report] ordering his deportation. Vides Casanova has an appeal pending before the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit [official website], which instituted [JURIST report] a $55 million verdict against the general for allowing human rights abuses to occur in the war. During the El Salvador Civil War [CJA backgrounder] more than 75,000 people were killed and 10,000 disappeared from 1980-1992.