Heat turned up on Uribe & US in Drummond lawsuit

WASHINGTON, DC---As the legal battle over Drummond Coal Co.'s involvement in the assassination of union leaders and o...

WASHINGTON, DC---As the legal battle over Drummond Coal Co.'s involvement in the assassination of union leaders and other Colombians near Drummond's huge coal operations in northeast Colombia grinds along, former Colombia president Alvaro Uribe along with an ex-aide and former top Colombia military officers are being sucked into the interminable case.

In the latest Washington filings in the civil case for "wrongful deaths" against Drummond, attorneys for Colombia families alleging murders by the Colombia right-wing paramilitary death squads are painting a picture of massive collusion between the Colombian government, the Colombian military, the AUC (Spanish acronyism for United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia), and Drummond, the coal multinational based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Plaintiffs in the April 15 filing also request a federal court to drop a request for limited immunity for Uribe and ask the court to order the US Department of State to produce all documents since 1994 pertaining to Drummond, the Colombia government and military, and the death squads. Both the right wing death squads and their arch-enemies, the left wing communist revolutionaries known as the FARC, have been declared terrorists by the US government.

Uribe has so far dodged a subpoena served on him in November at Georgetown University in Washington by claiming immunity. Attorneys for the families of the decedents seek to question Uribe about: his role before he was president in helping to start the AUC, his relations with the AUC while he was president, his cooperation with illegal drug smuggling to enrich the AUC, his use of the Colombia military to assist the AUC, and his acceptance of payments from Drummond for illegal services by the Colombian military.

The legal documents filed this month by tenacious Washington lawyer Terry Collingsworth on behalf of the Colombian plaintiffs also emphasize 14 key witnesses in Colombia sought for the civil case of wrongful deaths in a federal trial court in Birmingham. These include Colonel Hernan Mejia, an ex-commander in the Popa Batallion near the Drummond mines who is now in prison for working with illegal paramilitary. Also cited for testimony is former General Rafael Pena Rios, who resigned the military to work as Drummond's security chief in Colombia. Former Uribe chief of staff Fabio Echeverri, a member of Drummond's board of directors, is another whose testimony is requested through courts in Colombia.

Drummond repeatedly denies any wrongdoing.

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