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30 Okt 2018

Associated Press, Tuscaloosanews.com

Colombia reopens probe into Alabama-based Drummond

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Colombian authorities confirmed Tuesday that they have reopened an investigation into whether an Alabama-based coal company financed a paramilitary group during the South American nation’s bloody civil conflict. The chief prosecutor’s office said the investigation into the Colombian subsidiary of Drummond Co. Inc. is focusing on irregular payments allegedly made to a contractor, Jose Blanco, who was convicted in 2013 in the killing of two union leaders who worked at Drummond. They were sentenced to 38 years in prison. Accusations have long swirled that Drummond financed an umbrella paramilitary group, but U.S. courts have repeatedly ruled against the families of the Colombian victims...

Drummond issued a statement Tuesday denying the accusation and vowing to cooperate fully with any probe. “The company reiterates that it has never supported illegal armed groups,” the statement said. Terry Collingsworth, a lawyer representing relatives of those killed by right-wing militias during the conflict, said the new investigation is a “first step” toward holding Drummond officials accountable and paying reparations. “Justice is coming,” he said. Drummond has been operating in Colombia for several decades and is one of the nation’s biggest coal exporters. In repeated lawsuits, human rights activists and victim relatives have alleged that Drummond hired militias to silence union activists and suspected leftists.

Part of the following timelines

Colombia: Prosecutor charges Drummond officials with financing paramilitaries' war crimes from 1996 to 2006; with company comments

Drummond lawsuit (re paramilitary killings in Colombia, criminal proceedings in Colombia)