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1 Dec 2015

Astrid Perry, Leigh Day (UK)

Legal actions begins at High Court over allegations of abuses in Sierra Leone

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Law firm Leigh Day has confirmed that it is taking High Court legal action in the UK against iron ore producer Tonkolili Iron Ore Ltd (formerly a subsidiary of African Minerals Ltd) following allegations of human rights abuses against workers and villagers living near one of its mines in Sierra Leone.  Leigh Day say their clients' allege that the company, which had its headquarters on Stratton Street in London, was complicit in the false imprisonment, assault and battery, trespass and theft of property.  Allegations have also been levelled against the company in relation to its role in the fatal shooting by police of a 24-year-old female during a protest over working conditions and pay in 2012.  The pre-trial hearing at the High Court today heard arguments from lawyers representing the 142 claimants, who are mainly small scale or subsistence farmers and traders, in a bid to get compensation for their injuries sustained in two incidents in 2010 and 2012.  Tonkolili Iron Ore Ltd denies liability for the incidents which took place just outside the Tonkolili Iron Ore Ltd mining site outside Bumbuna town in the north of Sierra Leone.  The company claims that it has no vicarious responsibility for the actions of the police and that the English courts lack jurisdiction for events in Sierra Leone...Witness evidence alleges that villagers who had set up a roadblock, to stop the company destroying their farms and their livelihoods, were faced with police who opened fire on them...