Friday, September 03, 2004

Romero case victory

I report this, but I'm not really sure what it means. I'm sure not a penny will ever be paid, and I wonder if justice will ever catch up with Saravia.

Judge finds Modesto man liable for 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, Orders him to pay $10 million in damages

Fresno, California, September 3, 2004. Today at 5.45 pm, Judge Wanger issued a historic decision holding Modesto resident Alvaro Saravia responsible for his role in the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador as he was saying mass on March 24, 1980. Judge Wanger ordered Saravia to pay $10 million to the plaintiff, a relative of the Archbishop, who has still not been identified for security reasons.

Until today, no single individual has been held responsible for the assassination, one of the most heinous and shocking murders of the last part of the 20th century.

In announcing the monetary award, Judge Wanger stated that "the damages are of a magnitude that is hardly describable."

Judge Wanger ruled that the evidence clearly established Saravia’s responsibility for organizing the murder. He also determined that the murder constitutes a crime against a humanity, because it was part of a widespread and systematic attack intended to terrorize a civilian population. As Judge Wanger stated: "Here the evidence shows that there was a consistent and unabating regime that was in control of El Salvador, and that this regime essentially functioned as a militarily-controlled government." The government perpetrated "systematic violations of human rights for the purpose of perpetuating the oligarchy and the military government."

He also concluded that what happened in El Salvador was the "antithesis of due process" and that there could not be a better example of extrajudicial killing than the killing of Archbishop Romero.

Judge Wanger’s ruling is one of the few in the United States finding an invidual liable for crimes against humanity... The case was brought by the Center for Justice & Accountability (CJA), based in San Francisco, together with the law firm of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe.

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