San Francisco, CA­-United States District Court Judge Susan Illston 
ruled late yesterday that Chevron cannot avoid a trial on allegations 
of human rights abuses in Nigeria by arguing that it is not 
responsible for the conduct of its subsidiary, Chevron Nigeria Ltd 
(CNL).

Nine Nigerian plaintiffs are suing Chevron in federal court in San 
Francisco for deaths and other abuses in two incidents in 1998 and 
1999, in which Nigerian military and police paid by Chevron and using 
Chevron helicopters and boats shot and tortured protestors and 
destroyed two villages allegedly associated with opposition to 
Chevron’s oil activities in the desperately poor Niger delta.  The 
plaintiffs assert claims ranging from crimes against humanity to 
wrongful death.

Chevron attempted to avoid trial in the lawsuit by suggesting that it 
was not liable for CNL's activities, but Judge Illston twice denied 
Chevron's motion in 2004, and yesterday rejected a third attempt to 
raise the issue again.  In March of this year, Judge Illston also 
found that there was evidence that Chevron had assisted CNL in these 
operations, including that Chevron "approved payments from CNL" to 
the Nigerian security forces and that, "after the attacks, [Chevron] 
engaged in a media campaign to cover up CNL's involvement in the 
attacks."

"Chevron has repeatedly tried to keep an American jury from 
scrutinizing its role in the deaths and destruction our clients 
suffered at the hands of its paid security forces, and we are pleased 
that Judge Illston has again ruled that the claims of these Nigerian 
protestors should be decided at trial," said plaintiffs' lawyer 
Theresa Traber, partner at Traber & Voorhees, who opposed Chevron's 
motion.  "Chevron must face the fact that it cannot avoid 
accountability for these abuses through legal technicalities," said 
Marco Simons, U.S. Legal Director for EarthRights International 
(ERI), also counsel for the plaintiffs.

The case is Bowoto v. Chevron Corp., No. 99-2506.  In addition to ERI 
and Traber & Voorhees, the plaintiffs are represented by several 
private law firms including Hadsell & Stormer, and Siegel & Yee; the 
Center for Constitutional Rights and the Electronic Frontier 
Foundation; and Paul Hoffman, Michael Sorgen, Robert Newman, Anthony 
DiCaprio, Elizabeth Guarnieri, and Richard Wiebe.

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