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December 1, 2008 6:40 PM

Chevron Not Liable For Killings in Nigeria

Posted by Daphne Eviatar

Following a four-week trial, a federal court jury in San Francisco on Monday decided that California-based oil giant Chevron is not liable for the shootings and killings of unarmed protesters on a Chevron oil platform off the Niger Delta in 1998.

As we've written before, plaintiffs in the case, brought under the Alien Tort Statute, had claimed that Chevron paid for and otherwise supported Nigerian government soldiers who shot local villagers after they occupied Chevron's Parabe offshore platform to protest environmental and economic destruction caused by oil drilling. Nigerian soldiers shot and killed two unarmed protesters and wounded several more.  Others claim they were tortured in Nigerian custody.

Chevron released the following statement on Monday: "Chevron Nigeria Ltd. requested the rescue as a reasonable response to a dangerous invasion of the Parabe platform and, the invaders were harmed when they attacked military personnel. It was never Chevron Nigeria Ltd.'s intent that anyone on the platform be harmed, and we deeply regret the loss of life and injuries that occurred."

Plaintiffs released their own statement: "Although the plaintiffs did not prevail today, Chevron now knows that it cannot conceal complicity in human rights abuses from public scrutiny," said Richard Herz, an attorney at EarthRights International and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. "The fact that this case went to trial at all is a victory for human rights, and a tribute to the courage and persistence of these plaintiffs. We are hopeful that the legacy of this important case is that Chevron will change its behavior in the places where it operates.”

Monday's verdict doesn’t necessarily spell the end for Chevron's legal troubles arising out of its work in Nigeria. The plaintiffs have vowed to appeal the jury verdict, and another lawsuit against Chevron over its security practices in Nigeria is pending in California state court in San

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