A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld March 17 a district court decision finding former Salvadoran military commander Nicolas Carranza liable for murder and torture committed during El Salvador's civil war in the 1980s. In 2005, a Tennessee federal jury found Carranza liable for acts of murder and torture in El Salvador under the Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victims Protection Act. Carranza had appealed the verdict, claiming that the district court abused its discretion by not granting comity to a Salvadoran amnesty law.
During the 2005 trial, the jury heard testimony by five Salvadoran citizens who said they were tortured or had family members killed by soldiers who served under Carranza, a top commander of El Salvador's security forces during the civil 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, Tenn., in 1985, of allowing crimes against humanity during the war. The Salvadoran plaintiffs brought their case in US court under the Alien Tort Statute, also called the Alien Tort Claims Act, which allows foreign victims of serious human rights abuse abroad to sue perpetrators in federal court. In February, Carranza was indicted by the US Department of Justice for two counts of immigration fraud. (Jurist, March 18)
See our last post on El Salvador.