The Center for Justice and Accountability explains the importance of the verdict:
“On November 18, 2005, the federal court jury found Memphis resident Colonel Nicolas Carranza, the former Vice-Minister of Defense of El Salvador, responsible for overseeing torture and killings in that country. The verdict is a partial verdict in favur of four of the five plaintiffs. The jury has yet to reach a verdict on the claim of the fifth plaintiff, Ana Patricia Chavez, and is continuing to deliberate.
“The verdict represents the first time that a U.S. jury in a contested case has found a commander liable for crimes against humanity. This means that violations were committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against the civilian population of El Salvador. The jurors awarded each of the four plaintiffs $500,000 in compensatory damages for a total of $2 million.
“The jury also recommended that Carranza should pay punitive damages. Additional testimony will be taken today or Monday to determine the precise amount of that award.
“The trial was marked by several important revelations. Former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Robert White testified that Colonel Carranza was a paid informant for the CIA while he was Vice-Minister of Defense and a member of the High Command in 1980. At that time White asked the CIA station chief in El Salvador to remove Carranza from the CIA payroll because of his deplorable human rights record but no action was ever taken. Carranza admitted on the witness stand that he had been receiving money from the U.S. government since 1965.”
The decision didn’t stop the Salvadoran President Tony Saca telling the periodical El Faro, “I respect the internal judicial processes of the United States, however, there were people who fought for peace, democracy and liberty, and one of those was Colonel Nicolas Carranza…He was a hero of democracy in the country.”
The US government funded any number of torturers, murderers and monsters throughout Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s. This court case proves, albeit in a small way, that such crimes have a price and victims will be compensated.
UPDATE: In related news, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet has been placed under house arrest on tax evasion charges, two days before his 90th birthday. One more Western-friendly monster will suffer his last days in disgrace.