More than two decades later, a federal jury in Tennessee has held a former Salvadoran army colonel responsible for the torture.
Nicolas Carranza, 72, failed to stop crimes against humanity when he was a top commander of El Salvador's security forces, the jury found Friday. He was held responsible in civil claims by Alvarado and three others who said they were tortured or that their family members were killed by soldiers under Carranza's command.
"For all these years, I had to carry this inside me," said Alvarado, who testified that he was abducted as a college student and tortured into falsely confessing to the murder of a U.S. military adviser.
Alvarado was set free after U.S. investigators determined he was not responsible for the murder. The supervisor of the torture was an army major who served under Carranza, he said.
"It makes me feel that if you just wait, justice will come," Alvarado said.
Carranza was ordered to pay $500,000 to each accuser, plus $4 million in punitive damages, $1 million each.
The jury did not reach a verdict in a fifth case, and a mistrial was declared.