WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- A federal jury cleared two former Salvadoran generals Friday of liability in the 1980 deaths of four American church women.
The federal jury decided that former Salvadoran Defense Minister Jose Guillermo Garcia and Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, former head of the Salvadoran National Guard, weren't responsible for the slayings. The women were raped and killed by Salvadoran troops.
The generals were not in the courtroom for the verdict by the 10-member jury.
But as the court deputy read the verdicts, there was an audible sigh of disappointment from relatives of the slain women and the attorneys who brought the civil lawsuit.
The jury began deliberations Wednesday, three weeks after the wrongful death trial began with photos of the bodies of nuns Ti Ford, Mara Clark and Dorothy Kale and lay missionary Jean Donavon flashed on a screen.
The victims' families were seeking unspecified damages. But family members said during the trial that they would be happy to see the generals forced to leave their retirement havens and go back home, and they had hoped the outcome of the trial would provide U.S. immigration officials with ammunition to somehow do that.
Lawyers for their families showed jurors numerous declassified documents to illustrate the generals' failure to stop their soldiers from killing thousands of Salvadorans.
The generals' lawyer showed military-produced videotapes of Garcia asking soldiers to respect the human rights of fellow Salvadorans.
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