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US Court: Former Chilean Officer Must Pay Damage to Victim's Family - 2003-10-16

A U.S. court has ordered a former Chilean army officer to pay $4 million to the family of a Chilean official killed in a 1973 military coup.

The federal jury in the U.S. state of Florida Wednesday issued the sentence against former Chilean army lieutenant Armando Fernandez Larios.

The court found Mr. Fernandez responsible for extra-judicial killing, cruelty, torture and crimes against humanity in the death of Winston Cabello.

The victim's relatives said Mr. Fernandez conspired with the leader of an alleged death squad that killed more than 70 political opponents in the coup. The family sought damages under a U.S. law that allows foreigners to sue for violations of international law.

Mr. Fernandez has said he was in the area in northern Chile where Mr. Cabello was killed, but said he was unaware of the killings at the time.

In the 1980s, Mr. Fernandez was sentenced by a U.S. court for taking part in the murder of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier in Washington in 1976.

Argentina has asked to extradite Mr. Fernandez for similar charges in the coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power. An estimated 3,000 people died or disappeared without explanation during his 17-year rule, mainly for political reasons.