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Ex-Salvadoran General Vides Casanova Deported from the U.S. After Landmark Ruling Finding Him Removable for His Role in Human Rights Abuses
April 8, 2015 — Today, General Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, the former Defense Minister of El Salvador who was found liable for human rights violations during the country’s civil war in the 1980s, was deported to El Salvador after living as a legal resident in Florida for over 25 years.
CJA Senior Legal Advisor Carolyn Patty Blum said: “The deportation of General Vides Casanova is a historic moment for the victims and survivors of human rights abuses during El Salvador’s civil war. The removal from the United States of Vides Casanova, a general at the apex of power during years of horrendous repression, is unprecedented. This outcome is a testament to the years of hard work of human rights activists in El Salvador and the United States and the dedication of lawyers, researchers and others in the Department of Homeland Security. His deportation to El Salvador hopefully will be a new impetus for the repeal of El Salvador’s decades-old amnesty law, which has been ruled illegal under international law, and will clear the path for Vides Casanova to face criminal accountability in his own country.”
Vides Casanova’s deportation came on the heels of an immigration appeals board decision, which upheld his removability from the United States for assisting and participating in the torture and extrajudicial killings of civilians, including the torture of CJA clients Juan Romagoza Arce and Pedro Daniel Alvarado. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit denied Vides’ request to remain in the United States while his federal appeal was pending. Vides Casanova has been jailed in an ICE detention center since his arrest on March 25, 2015.
CJA has fought to bring General Vides Casanova to justice since 1999, when he was one of two defendants in a civil case brought by CJA on behalf of torture survivors, Carlos R. Mauricio, Romagoza, and Neris Gonzalez. CJA’s case resulted in a multi-million dollar jury verdict finding General Vides Casanova and co-defendant General Jose Guillermo García liable for the torture of the three plaintiffs.
The deportation of Vides Casanova coincides with the filing today of Spain’s extradition request of another high-ranking Salvadoran military official, former Colonel Inocente Montano, to stand trial for the Jesuit massacre. Almudena Bernabeu, CJA’s International Attorney, said: “The deportation of General Vides Casanova and the extradition request for Colonel Montano represent important steps toward justice for the many victims of the Salvadoran military. We at CJA are humbled by our work alongside these victims to bring about these results.”
About the Center for Justice and Accountability
CJA is a San Francisco-based human rights organization dedicated to deterring torture and other severe human rights abuses around the world and advancing the rights of survivors to seek truth, justice and redress. CJA uses litigation to hold perpetrators individually accountable for human rights abuses, develop human rights law, and advance the rule of law in countries transitioning from periods of abuse. www.cja.org