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February 7, 2016

Banana Terrorism Case Thrown Out

A seven-year legal battle to hold Chiquita responsible for killings in Colombia stemming from payments to a U.S.-labeled terrorist group might have come to an end late Thursday when a court dismissed a suit against the banana and produce giant.

The AP got this response from Chiquita:

“We are gratified that the U.S. Court of Appeals has now agreed with us and the claims have been dismissed,” said Chiquita spokesman Ed Loyd in an email statement. “The decision reinforces what Chiquita has maintained from the beginning — that Chiquita is not responsible for the tragic violence that has plagued Colombia.”

Except that’s not what the court reinforced; it really only said that federal courts had no jurisdiction to consider the claims of Colombians, who sought to hold Chiquita accountable for a killings that they alleged resulted from $1.7 million worth of payment to the right wing paramilitary group AUC in its battle with the leftist FARC. The clashes led to the deaths of an estimated 50,00 people. Both organizations are designated as terrorist groups by the United States.

Chiquita reached settlement for a $25 million fine from the Justice Department in 2007 after admitting the payments for protection of its workers on banana farms. The company has said it was extorted.

More recently, the company also has spent $780,000 lobbying on legislation inspired by victims of 9/11 that would make it easier to sue groups that funded terrorists.

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