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Shell threatened with Dutch lawsuit over activist’s death in Nigeria

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-17-50-47By Kathryn Higgins: 26 Oct 2016

Esther Kiobel has accused Shell of being complicit in the murder of her husband, anti-oil activist Barinem Kiobel who was executed by the Nigerian military in 1995. Court documents filed in New York last week show that Ms Kiobel plans to commence legal action against the company before the end of this year, with Shell’s home country the Netherlands the most likely setting for the legal showdown. The application in New York is an attempt to secure key documents from Shell’s lawyers that could be of use in the Dutch action.

‘Encouraged, facilitated and conspired’

‘Kiobel will demonstrate that Shell encouraged, facilitated and conspired with the Nigerian government to commit human rights violations against the Ogoni people,’ reads the memorandum filed last week. Ms Kiobel previously attempted to filed the lawsuit in the United, but the US Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the case could not be heard as the alleged activities took place outside the US.

Shell denies claims

Mr Kiobel was murdered at part of a Nigerian military crackdown on opponents to Shell’s joint venture with the Nigerian government, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, during the early 1990s. The company has already paid $15.5m to settle lawsuits in the United States relating to the deaths of other activists killed at the same time as Mr Kiobel. A statement from Shell reads: ‘Shell remains firmly committed to supporting fundamental human rights in line with the legitimate role of business. We have always denied, in the strongest possible terms, the allegations made by the plaintiffs in this tragic case.’ 


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