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Banana producer faces $8b lawsuit over terrorism

Stored under Caption This!GamesMiscellaneousNewsRecipesRelated EBay AuctionsReviewsVideosVisual Stimulation on November 15, 2007

VICTIMS of Colombia's bloody civil conflict have filed the largest US lawsuit to date against a top banana producer, Chiquita Brands International, saying the company funded and armed a paramilitary organisation accused of killing banana growers.

The civil lawsuit seeks a total of $US7.9 billion ($8.7 billion) on behalf of 393 victims and their relatives and accuses Chiquita of conspiring with the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym AUC, to control Colombia's banana-growing regions.

"It was about acquiring every aspect of banana distribution and sale through a reign of terror," the plaintiffs' lawyer, Jonathan Reiter, said. The suit seeks damages for supporting terrorism, war crimes, wrongful death and torture.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, is the latest of several complaints filed by Colombian victims against Chiquita in the US this year.

The company has admitted paying off violent guerilla groups, including the AUC, who are accused of massacres during Colombia's long-running guerilla war before it disarmed in 2003.

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