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US Deports Retired El Salvador General Accused of Abuses

Relatives of war victims protest against Carlos Vides, a former Salvadoran minister of defense, upon his arrival at San Salvador's Oscar Romero airport, April 8, 2015.

A retired Salvadoran military general accused of human rights abuses arrived in San Salvador on Wednesday after he failed to secure asylum in the United States and was deported.

Carlos Vides, defense minister and head of the national guard at the height of El Salvador's 12-year civil war, has been accused of presiding over torture and murder, and with obstructing justice by shielding people accused of abuses.

Vides, 78, faces no charges in El Salvador because of an amnesty law exempting crimes committed during the 1980-92 civil war. During the conflict, an estimated 75,000 people were killed and 8,000 went missing.

Vides has lived in Florida since 1989. A U.S. immigration court began deportation proceedings against him in 2009, on the ground that the U.S. government does not provide asylum to anyone linked with human rights abuses.

However, the Salvadoran army appealed the decision, holding up the process until his eventual expulsion Wednesday.

Last month, the U.S. Justice Department backed the immigration court's decision, taking the view that during the conflict, Vides was in charge of men involved in cases of torture and extrajudicial killings.

Vides was greeted at San Salvador's Oscar Romero airport by both army supporters and critics who screamed "murderer'' at him as he left the building. Vides made no comment.