Ex-Salvadoran defense chief faces US deportation

Department of Homeland Security files complaint against retired General Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova

Deportation proceedings began on Monday in Orlando, Florida against a former Salvadoran defense minister linked to torture and other human-rights abuses in the 1980s during the bloody civil war in El Salvador.

The US Department of Homeland Security filed a complaint against retired General Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova with the US Immigration Court. The 74-year-old Vides Casanova, who has been living in south Florida for the past 20 years, denies he had anything to do with the abuses committed when he was serving in the military.

His legal problems began in 1998 when human-rights attorney Scott Greathead traveled to El Salvador to investigate the killings of four American nuns in 1980 by National Guard troops. Greathead, who was representing the families of the nuns, had been told by the then-US ambassador that Vides Casanova, who was head of the National Guard at the time of the murders, and another former defense minister, José Guillermo García, were living quietly in Florida.

In 2000, the families filed a lawsuit against Vides Casanova and Garciá seeking $54 million in compensation. Six years later Vides Casanova had to turn over $300,000 in personal possessions after he lost the lawsuit on appeal.

Following the rulings, the Justice Department announced it would launch deportation proceedings against both men.

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