A federal jury on Tuesday ruled in favor of three men who said in a lawsuit that the former mayor of their small town in Haiti subjected them or their relatives to a campaign of political persecution that included a killing, attempted killings and torture.

The jury in U.S. District Court in Boston also awarded the plaintiffs more than $15 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Jean Morose Viliena, a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. who now lives in Malden, Massachusetts, was sued in 2017 by three Haitian citizens who say they or their relatives were persecuted by him and his political allies.

The lawsuit was filed under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, which allows civil lawsuits to be filed in the U.S. against foreign officials who allegedly committed wrongdoing in their homeland if all legal avenues in their country have been exhausted. It was filed by the Center for Justice and Accountability in San Francisco.

The trial shined a spotlight on the wider issue of patronage, violence, and intimidation in Haitian politics and the Caribbean nation’s often ineffective judicial system.

The plaintiffs — David Boniface, Juders Ysemé, and Nissage Martyr — lodged legal complaints against Viliena in Haiti, but he was ultimately released and never tried. Nissage Martyr has since died, and his son, Nissandère Martyr, replaced him as a plaintiff.

Viliena was mayor more than a decade ago of Les Irois, a town of around 22,000 people on Haiti’s westernmost tip, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) from the capital Port-au-Prince.

“This verdict represents a 15-year long struggle for the plaintiffs and the people of Les Irois for justice,” said Ela Matthews, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said after the verdict.

Viliena denied having anything to do with the violence, and the jury found him not liable for burning down the plaintiffs’ homes. He showed no emotion as the verdict was read. He and his attorney, Peter Haley, declined comment as they left the courtroom.

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