Uncategorized US deports Salvadoran commander accused of war crimes

US deports Salvadoran commander accused of war crimes


File-General Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova outside the federal courthouse in Palm Beach, Fla., in October 2000.
File-General Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova outside the federal courthouse in Palm Beach, Fla., in October 2000.

(AA) – The U.S. on Wednesday deported a former Salvadoran defense minister accused of war crimes in the small Central American nation.

Retired Gen. Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova allegedly participated in the extrajudicial killings of four U.S. missionary women and the Sumpul River massacre of more than 600 men, women and children, among other cases.

An estimated 75,000 people were killed during a 12-year armed conflict between government and guerrilla forces in El Salvador. A UN Truth Commission report found that state security forces were responsible for the vast majority of violent acts committed against civilians.

During the conflict, Vides Casanova headed the Salvadoran National Guard and was later appointed Minister of Defense before retiring and moving to Florida in 1989.

Vides Casanova arrived in San Salvador early Wednesday afternoon and followed the regular welcome process along with other deportees. Outside the airport, protestors rallied to demand justice.

A U.S. Immigration Appeals Board Panel ruling on March 11 upheld an earlier decision that Vides Casanova was removable, determining that “the totally of the record supported the conclusion that, through his ‘command responsibility’ in his role as Director of the Salvadoran National Guard and as Minister of Defense of El Salvador, he participated in the commission of particular acts of torture and extrajudicial killing of civilians in El Salvador.”

No arrest warrant has been issued in El Salvador and it remains unclear whether Vides Casanova will face prosecution.

El Salvador’s Human Rights Ombudsman David Morales considers Vides Casanova’s actions in the 1980s are not covered by a controversial amnesty law passed in the wake of the 1992 peace accords that ended the armed conflict.

“The crimes attributed to Vides Casanova have no statute of limitations nor are they subject to amnesty. The [Office of the Public Prosecutor] is obligated to investigate and prosecute him,” Morales tweeted Wednesday morning.

Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it is seeking the extradition of another Salvadoran former military official to Spain, where he faces charges for participating in the murder of five Spanish Jesuit priests. Another priest, along with a housekeeper and the housekeeper’s 16-year-old daughter were also murdered by soldiers in the massacre.

The priests were reportedly targeted for supporting peace talks between the government and rebels.

Inocente Orlando Montano Morales was an Army Colonel at the time of the Nov. 19, 1989, massacre. Currently serving 21 months in a U.S. prison for immigration fraud and perjury, Montano Morales is scheduled to be released later this month, according to the complaint filed by the Justice Department.

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