Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal of Vietnam War Lawsuit

Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal of Vietnam War Lawsuit

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DENVER (AP) -- A federal appeals court refused to resurrect a lawsuit against American soldiers who allegedly committed war crimes during the Vietnam War.

The suit was filed by seven Vietnamese citizens on behalf of victims and survivors of the 1968 My Lai Massacre. A Utah district court dismissed the suit in 2002, because the 10-year statute of limitations under the Torture Victim Protection Act had expired.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling Friday in an opinion made available Monday. The Denver-based court agreed that sufficient arguments were not made to waive the 10-year time limitation by almost 30 years, even considering the plaintiffs' poverty and their status in a Communist country.

The group in 2000 sued the U.S. government and eight soldiers, including former Army Lt. William Calley Jr., who led an Army unit during the invasion of My Lai on March 16, 1968. The village was thought to be a Viet Cong stronghold.

Hundreds of unarmed civilians were shot to death. The Vietnamese government set the death toll at more than 500.

Calley was convicted in a 1971 court-martial and sentenced to life imprisonment, but President Nixon reduced his sentence and he served three years of house arrest.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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