A former president of Bolivia and his one-time defense minister went on trial in connection with a lawsuit filed by family members who say their relatives were indiscriminately shot by the military in a heavy-handed attempt to quell civil unrest in 2003.

The federal case against former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, and his former defense minister, Jose Carlos Sanchez Berzain, has been pending since 2007. It was brought by families of eight people shot and killed under the Torture Victim Protection Act, which authorizes lawsuits in the U.S. for extrajudicial killings in foreign countries.

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