Colombia: Prosecutor charges Drummond officials with financing paramilitaries' war crimes from 1996 to 2006; with company comments
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Eight current and former officials of U.S. coal producer Drummond Co Inc...were called last week to testify before Colombian investigators about allegations the company supported far-right paramilitary death squads...
Prosecutors have investigated allegations for more than a decade that Drummond financed paramilitary groups involved in the 2001 assassination of two union leaders in northern Colombia.
Drummond and company officials were exonerated by U.S. courts in the case. In Colombia officials were also exonerated, but a contractor was sentenced to 38 years in prison for making payments to the paramilitaries...
The attorney general's office would not confirm whether this investigation relates to new allegations or if it is part of an open investigation into the previous charges...
Author: Associated Press, Tuscaloosanews.com
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.
Author: International Rights Advocates
The Colombian Specialized Criminal Prosecutor’s Office No. 247 conducted an independent investigation across the last year and concluded there was sufficient evidence to formally open a criminal case against Drummond Company Ltd., the American coal giant, for financing the terrorist United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), the umbrella paramilitary group in Colombia.
The prosecutor named the Drummond officials who provided funding, logistical support and other assistance to the AUC’s war crimes from 1996 to 2006.
[The NGO] IRAdvocates represents over 600 families who had a close relative murdered by AUC death squads directed by Drummond to protect the company’s rail line from guerilla groups.
The AUC has admitted that it used scorched-earth tactics and killed anyone “suspected” of being aligned with guerilla groups who happened to wander near Drummond’s facilities.
Drummond has long denied any association with the AUC...[and] initiated frivolous...suits against the lawyers who were attempting to bring Drummond to justice...
October 30, 2018
With respect to media reports that an investigation has been reopened in Colombia concerning certain of our current and former employees, Drummond Ltd. would like to provide the following information:
- Drummond’s alleged involvement with the AUC has been exhaustively investigated by prosecutors in Colombia and by the courts in the United States, with all concluded cases and investigations resulting in favor of the Company and its employees.
- Neither the Company nor its employees have been notified by Colombian authorities of the reported investigation, and have only been made aware of this situation by the media.