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Mayans to sue Canadian mining company over alleged murder, rapes in Guatemala

Mayan Guatemalans say mining company HudBay Minerals is responsible for security personnel killing an activist and raping 11 women.

Canadian mine Guatemala HudBay lawsuitEnlarge
A soldier frisks a driver in Mataquescuintla, 125 km southeast of Guatemala City, on May 2, 2013. President Otto Perez Molina ordered a state of siege in southeastern Guatemala after security forces clashed with opponents of a Canadian-owned gold and silver mine who took 23 officers hostage. Residents fear that the mine will destroy the local mountain and drain their water resources. (JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

A judge has cleared the way for 13 Guatemalans to sue Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals over shootings and rapes that allegedly happened in Central America.

In the decision handed down Monday, Madame Justice Carole Brown said HudBay can be held accountable — on Canadian soil — for the actions of its subsidiary thousands of miles away, The Globe and Mail reported.

The case stems from 2007 and 2009 incidents where security personnel at the Fenix nickel mine clashed with Mayans in land claims disputes.

During the violence, activist leader Adolfo Ich Chaman died in a machete and gun attack.

The plaintiffs also accuse mine security of raping 11 women at the mine and putting another man in a wheelchair. Three lawsuits resulted.

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The Canadian lawyer for the Guatemalans called it a precedent-setting case.

In an interview with the Canadian Press, Murray Klippenstein called it a wake-up call for multinational corporations.

“Mining companies, and maybe other companies operating abroad, need to take a very, very, serious look at the possibility or likelihood that shenanigans abroad that they thought would never result in liability may result in accountability in Canadian courts,” he said on Tuesday.

HudBay “vigorously” denied the claim.

On its website, HudBay said it bought the mine in 2008 after many of the alleged incidents between the Mayans and the former owner, Compania Guatemalteca de Niquel (CGN).

The company also accused Mayans of squatting and inciting violence.

It then sold its operations there two years ago.

“Based on extensive internal investigations and eyewitness reports, Hudbay believes that the allegations in these matters are without merit and it is vigorously defending itself against them,” HudBay said in its posting.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/canada/130723/mayans-can-sue-canadian-mine-over-alleged-murder-rapes-