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20 Mär 2017

Alex Pickett, Courthouse News (USA)

Relatives of Colombians killed by paramilitary groups file complaint in US alleging that Chiquita executives committed crimes against humanity

"Families Blame Banana Execs for Killings", 15 Mar 2017

...In a complaint filed March 11 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, more than 200 relatives of the slain claim nothing short of “a campaign of terror” was carried out by paramilitary groups in Colombia’s Uraba region to maintain control of vast banana plantations owned by Chiquita.  The plaintiffs...claim that former Chiquita CEO Cyrus Freidheim and manager Charles Keiser violated U.S., Colombian and international laws against torture, extrajudicial killing and other “crimes against humanity” by directing the activity.  According to the 155-page complaint, Chiquita made regular monthly payments to security forces controlled by the United Self-Defense Groups of Colombia, or AUC, totaling more than $1.7 million...Even after the United States designated the AUC as a terrorist organization, the families say, Chiquita continued to fund them...In addition to paying the AUC, the complaint alleges Chiquita allowed drugs and arms to move through its private port...Last November, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra of West Palm Beach rejected the banana company’s request to hear the case in Colombia, citing security risks to the plaintiffs. Earlier last year, Marra ruled another lawsuit against former Chiquita executives could move forward...