Judge Allows Chiquita Case to Proceed for Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes, Extra-Judicial Killing, Aiding and Abetting and Conspiracy

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The Law Firm of Jonathan C. Reiter has scored an important victory in the case against Chiquita for allegedly collaborating with the AUC in the murders and tortures of thousands of people in Colombia.

New York Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter

New York Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter

The Law Firm of Jonathan C. Reiter has filed cases on behalf of 726 murder and torture victims, alleging that Chiquita is guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other human rights violations

The Law Firm of Jonathan C. Reiter, with offices in the Empire State Building, and other plaintiff’s attorneys representing victims in the case against Chiquita Brands International, Inc. scored an important victory today when United States District Judge Kenneth A. Marra denied most of Chiquita’s motion to dismiss the various lawsuits filed against it for allegedly aiding and abetting the AUC in the murders and tortures of thousands of people in Colombia. The Law Firm of Jonathan C. Reiter has filed cases on behalf of 726 murder and torture victims, alleging that Chiquita is guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other human rights violations, claiming compensatory and punitive damages in the billions of dollars. All of these cases are now pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Case No. 08-01916-MD-Marra.

In his decision, Judge Marra found that the cases filed by the plaintiffs were sufficiently detailed to permit the case to go forward on some, but not all of the theories alleged. Specifically, Judge Marra held that claims based upon the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, aiding and abetting, conspiracy, torture and extrajudicial killing were viable under the Alien Tort Statute. The Judge also found that there were sufficiently detailed allegations of a “symbiotic relationship” between the AUC, an illegal paramilitary terrorist organization, and the Colombian government. Conversely, the Judge dismissed claims based on terrorism, material support for terrorism and various state laws.

Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter commented on the decision stating “Judge Marra’s lengthy and detailed decision sustains the plaintiffs’ position on most of the theories of liability, such as ‘war crimes’, ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘conspiracy”, and paves the way for further legal proceedings, hopefully leading to an award of fair compensation to the victims of murder and torture at the hands of the AUC.”

The Judge did make clear that for the purposes of his decision on the validity of the pleadings, the factual allegations of the plaintiffs’ complaints were taken as true, and that plaintiffs would have to prove their cases in subsequent court proceedings. In this regard Mr. Reiter stated:

“We look forward to presenting all of our evidence in Court. Many recently de-classified documents gathered in the federal prosecution of Chiquita detail in black and white the depth of Chiquita’s involvement with the AUC and its cooperation with the nefarious aims and methods of the paramilitaries.”

Chiquita pled guilty in March 2007 to the criminal charge of engaging in illegal transactions with a specially designated global terrorist (the AUC), a prosecution brought in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Criminal No. 07-055 and was sentenced to a fine of $25 million dollars and corporate probation for 5 years.

Copies of the Judge’s decision may be obtained by contacting the Law Firm of Jonathan C. Reiter at 212-736-0979.

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