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Chevron acquitted in Nigeria human rights case

Chevron has been cleared in a lawsuit accusing the US oil giant of complicity in a deadly hostage incident in Nigeria in 1998, the company said

"We are gratified by the decision of the jurors in this case who listened to weeks of testimony, weighed all the evidence presented, and arrived at a just and fair verdict," the company said Monday after the decision in a San Francisco federal court.

Chevron was sued by Larry Bowoto and other members of "Concerned Ilaje Citizens," in connection with the incident.

Chevron claimed the group had taken hostages at an offshore oil platform in 1998 before the intervention of Nigerian armed forces that resulted in the death of two hostages.

"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," the company said.

"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."

According to another group, "Justice in Nigeria Now," soldiers and police shot unarmed residents of the Ilaje community who were staging a nonviolent sit-in at Chevron's offshore platform to demand that Chevron change its practices.

The group claimed Chevron's operations had hurt local communities' access to food and clean water.

Laura Livoti, founder of Justice in Nigeria Now, said that despite the verdict the case proved a point.

"The fact that Bowoto v. Chevron made it this far in the process is a victory in and of itself, because it means that we have demonstrated that there is a clear pathway in the US court system for holding corporations accountable to the rule of law," she said.

"This is the first time a case against a company for aiding and abetting human rights violations overseas has even gone before a jury."

Author: Ksenia Kochneva