Drummond, an Alabama-based mining corporation, is fighting a lawsuit in a Birmingham federal court for crimes committed in Colombia. The company, which operates large facilities in La Loma, Colombia, is charged with hiring paramilitary gunmen in 2001 to kidnap, torture and murder three Colombian union leaders. This week, 12 U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos asking him to make a former intelligence officer available for testimony.
The former officer, Rafael Garcia, has previously claimed that he witnessed Augusto Jimenez, Drummond's top executive in Colombia, personally giving $200,000 in cash to the leader of an armed group as payment for the killings of Valmore Locarno Rodriquez and Victor Hugo Orcasita. U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre has ruled that the attorneys representing the families of the victims could present Garcia's testimony either by videoconferencing or by a sworn statement. "His testimony could be very damning to the coal company," Bowdre wrote.According to the Pittsburgh-based United Steelworkers, which is suing on behalf of the families, Vice President Santos promised last May to make Garcia available for testimony. But so far, the Colombian government has failed to act on the promise. On Monday, the trial will enter its third week and is expected to last another two weeks. Read fulll story