CNN reports that a federal court has allowed a law suit to proceed against Chiquita for allegedly contributing to human rights abuses in Colombia by paying bribes to the right wing paramilitary groups that actually committed the atrocities. Chiquita which once operated 200 banana plantations in Columbia claimed that it was a victim of extortion and was forced to pay the bribes which it also paid to left wing rebels. Chiquita already plead guilty to federal criminal charges involving the same bribes and paid a $25 million fine.
The article states:
A federal judge in Florida said Friday that lawsuits against Chiquita Brands International, filed by family members of thousands of Colombians who were tortured or killed by paramilitaries, will be allowed to go forward.
Chiquita, which has admitted to making payments to paramilitaries, had asked for the suits to be dismissed, arguing it was a victim of extortion and has no responsibility for any crimes armed groups committed.
But U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra denied the company’s request, allowing plaintiffs to move forward with claims for damages against the company for torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity. He granted Chiquita’s motion to dismiss claims for damages related to terrorism.
“While the court allowed some claims to move forward, it is important to understand that at this stage of the proceedings, the court is required by law to treat plaintiffs’ outrageous and false allegations as if they were true. Plaintiffs now have the burden of proving these allegations,” Chiquita spokesman Ed Loyd said in a statement.
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