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Ex-Philippines president sued over double murder

SAN FRANCISCO — A former Philippines president and another prominent politician are being sued in federal court in San Francisco over claims of complicity in the high-profile slaying of a Manila publicist.

Salvador "Bubby" Dacer and his driver were snatched from a Manila street in November 2000. Their strangled and burned bodies were found later.

Dacer’s four daughters filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing former President Joseph Estrada, former Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and five others of involvement in the slayings. The suit was filed under a U.S. law that allows federal courts to consider allegations of human rights abuses committed outside the country.

Estrada, who served as president from 1998 until his ouster in 2001 in the country’s second "people power" revolution, and Lacson, who also is a former national police chief, have denied any involvement.

The lawsuit was filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act, adopted in 1789 as part of the original laws that created the federal judicial system. The act gathered dust for nearly 200 years, with only three known cases brought to a U.S. court through 1980.

In the last several years, however, human rights activists have been using the law to file lawsuits against a wide range of alleged abuses around the globe.

A lawsuit invoking the Alien Tort Claims Act never has won at trial, though several have been settled before they reached a jury.

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