May 28, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (CN) - Drummond Co. paid a Colombian death squad millions of dollars to murder and terrorize union workers at its coal mine, hundreds of people claim in Federal Court. They claim the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia used a "scorched earth policy ... torturing and murdering" and displacing thousands of peasants from their homes along Drummond's railroad line in Cesar and Magdalena provinces.
"Almost every family in these provinces lost a family member, a neighbor or friend to war crimes committed by the AUC during its brutal civil war with the FARC," the complaint states.
The plaintiffs also sued Alfredo Araujo Castro, Drummond's "manager of community relations" in Colombia, and James Atkins, its director of security in Colombia.
They claim, among other things, that Araujo committed perjury when he testified in June 2005, in Romero v. Drummond Co., that he had never met with "his childhood friend, Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias Jorge 40, the leader of the AUC's Northern Block ... or any other AUC members."
They claim that Atkins and Araujo were present at a meeting with death squad leaders in November 2000 "at the entrance to Drummond's mine in La Loma," and that "at this meeting, defendant Atkins, on behalf of Drummond, approved a payment to the AUC of the assassination of the top leaders of the Drummond union".
Plaintiffs' lead counsel is Garfield Ivey Jr. of Jasper, Ala.