The case of multinational mining company Drummond has been declared inadmissible in US Court, after an investigation over charges of conspiracy with paramilitary groups lasting several years.
The US Court of Appeals filed the case of Drummond on March 25, concluding that there was no evidence that US executives had made payments to the now defunct paramilitary organization, the AUC.
The case did not hold adequate information to meet the requirements of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), a law developed to bring international claims to American courts.
Drummond Ltd. had allegedly financed paramilitary groups responsible for 2,600 homicides, massacres, forced displacement, and disappearances in the state of Cesar, as was detailed in an investigative report released by the Dutch NGO PAX last year.
The Court of Appeals has not scrutinized evidence against Drummond’s Colombian executives. This is to be decided in Colombia’s Courts of Justice.
The PAX report was based on testimonies of former paramilitary commanders, contractors, and former employees of Drummond as well as other mining companies. It alleged that these companies were complicit in the extreme human rights violations that occurred as a result of the paramilitaries between 1996 and 2006.
The multinational company announced the ruling in a press release on Monday.
“With the Company and its executives cleared of any wrong-doing, Drummond welcomes this ruling as a re-affirmation that we conduct business obeying the law,” the statement declared.
“At no time have we been involved in illegal activities or in relationships with illegal groups,” said Drummond.
The US Court of Appeal concluded in their published report that there was no evidence that “the paramilitaries were receiving payments from Drummond,” and determined that “the evidence presented by the plaintiffs did not prove the guilt of the defendants.”
The high court therefore ruled in favor of the defendants, as it lacked adequate proof of “an alleged corporate plan to finance or otherwise support the AUC, even less that they had participated in such a plan or had control over who allegedly took part.”
“JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED BY THE COURTS!” Drummond announced on their website on Monday.
“Now, these falsely accused executives can work without these false accusations hanging over their heads so that they and the Company can work to create a better and safer way of life for our workers and the communities in which we work,” the statement concluded.
This idea of false testimony has been a further controversy surrounding the company since the report was released.
The former paramilitary commanders contributing to the report had a financial incentive to provide evidence to the lawyer pursuing legal action, Terry Collingsworth, Drummond has long said.
According to the company, paramilitaries changed their testimonies to implicate the mining multinational after receiving financial incentives given by Collingsworth to acquire beneficial statements from the paramilitaries in his case.
For example, the deposition given by former paramilitary criminal Charris Castro after he was arrested in 2008 for the murder of two union leaders contained no knowledge of links between paramilitaries and the mining companies.
Drummond asserts that Charris began to change his story after meetings with Collingsworth and subsequent payments from his law firm to his wife, totalling over $38,000.
The Drummond vs. Collingsworth case is yet to be decided.