December 28, 2000

Judge denies new trial in case of Salvadoran generals

                  WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (AP) -- A federal judge refused to grant a new trial in the case of
                  two former Salvadoran generals blamed for the rape and murder of four American church women.

                  U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley's one-sentence ruling denied the request of the
                  families of Catholic nuns Ita Ford, Maura Clarke and Dorothy Kazel and lay missionary Jean
                  Donovan. They were killed by soldiers in El Salvador in 1980.

                  A jury in civil court on November 3 found that Salvadoran Defense Minister Jose Guillermo
                  Garcia and Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, former head of the Salvadoran
                  National Guard, were not responsible for the slayings.

                  Jurors found that the generals, who now live in Florida, didn't have enough
                  control over their troops to be held responsible for the deaths.

                  The women's families claimed the jury was given misleading instructions
                  concerning the generals' control of their own troops by the judge in the case.
                  The families also said the verdict "was against the great weight of the evidence."

                  The generals' attorney, Kurt Klaus, was on vacation this week and could not be
                  reached for comment, The Palm Beach Post reported in its Thursday editions.
                  He had previously called the families' request frivolous.

                  Bob Montgomery, the families' lawyer who handled the case for free at the
                  request of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in New York, said he was
                  disappointed with last week's ruling.

                  Montgomery said he would not appeal. Representatives for the Lawyers
                  Committee could not be reached on Wednesday to determine whether they will
                  use another attorney and file an appeal, the newspaper reported.

                  The families had asked for $100 million in damages, but said they hoped a
                  verdict in their favor would provide U.S. Immigration officials with ammunition
                  to somehow send the generals back to El Salvador.

                  On May 7, the ex-generals are to go on trial in connection with the kidnapping
                  and torture of four Salvadorans who now live in the United States.

                  Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.