Group Accuses Federal Judge of Delaying Release of Chevron Documents

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Amazon Defense Coalition is accusing a U.S. federal judge in San Francisco of deliberately delaying the release of documents that would help in the judicial proceedings in Ecuador against the oil and natural gas giant, Chevron. Here are the details.

* According to a press release this week by the Amazon Defense Coalition, Federal Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins was asked by rainforest villagers in Ecaudor to force Chevron and the Mason Investigative Group to release hundred of pages of material regarding an alleged scheme to bribe an Ecuadorian judge.

* The group is claiming that a Chevron operative was paid more than $2 million to keep quiet about the videotaped attempts to bribe the judge and says the company hired several law firms to try to persuade Cousins to block the release of the documents.

* Amazon Defense Coalition spokesperson Karen Hinton stated that the Republic of Ecuador, represented by U.S. law firm Winston & Strawn, requested the release of the documents in March 2011. In August of 2011, a Northern California District Judge ordered Chevrom and the Mason Group to produce the documents.

* Chevron and the Mason Group are claiming most of the documents are privileged, Hinton stated, and Judge Cousins has been ordered to review them.

* Chevron denies that it is responsible for environmental and social harms in the Amazon. "Chevron has never conducted oil production operations in Ecuador, and its subsidiary Texaco Petroleum Co. ('TexPet') fully remediated its share of environmental impacts arising from oil production operations prior to 1992," the company stated in a fact sheet about the Ecuador lawsuit.

* In a case that has been ongoing for decades, an Ecuadorian judge ruled against Chevron and awarded more a judgement of more than $18 billion in 2011. An appellate court sided with that judgement in January, despite "Chevron's appeal on the grounds that the ruling lacked scientific merit and that it ignores overwhelming evidence of fraud and misconduct," the company stated.

* Chevron continues to fight the judgment, which has been suspended by an order from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague until claims that were brought against Ecuador regarding violations of interneational law are resolved.

* "After an eight-year trial," Hinton stated, "Chevron in 2011 was found liable for deliberately dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into Amazon waterways and forests to save on production costs. Evidence before the court showed the contamination caused an outbreak of cancer and decimated indigenous groups."

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