Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Court Rules Guatemalan Lawsuits against HudBay Can Go to Trial in Cda

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Court Rules Guatemalan Lawsuits against HudBay Can Go to Trial in Cda

Article excerpt

Lawsuits against HudBay can be tried in Cda

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TORONTO - Three lawsuits against a Canadian mining company over alleged shootings and gang rapes at a Guatemalan project will be allowed to proceed in Canada following a ruling that makes it possible for firms to face liability at home for incidents that occur overseas.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, 13 Mayan Guatemalans, said the decision is a "wake-up call" for Canadian companies about their responsibilities at foreign mining projects.

"This step in the case uses existing legal rules that have not been applied in this way before," lawyer Murray Klippenstein said in an interview Tuesday.

"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."

The suits allege that security personnel, along with members of the police and military, attacked and raped 11 women in 2007 who were forcibly removed from their village in relation to the Fenix project.

Two related lawsuits seek to hold HudBay Minerals Inc. (TSX:HBM) and a subsidiary responsible for the subsequent killing of community leader Adolfo Ich as a result of a land dispute and the shooting and paralysis of local resident German Chub.

HudBay, which didn't own the mining operations when most of the alleged incidents occurred, has said the accusations contradict available information and that it would defend itself "vigorously against them.''

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The Toronto-based company bought the Fenix project nickel mine in Guatemala in a corporate takeover of Skye Resources in 2008, but sold it in 2011 to Russian firm Solway Investment Group to focus on its Canadian and Peruvian projects.

HudBay spokesman John Vincic said the ruling does not involve any determination of the merits of the case.

"It also did not consider the likelihood that the plaintiffs would be able to establish the facts they are alleging," he wrote in an email. "After having an opportunity to cross-examine the plaintiffs, we are confident that their allegations are untrue and the cases will be favourably resolved on the merits at trial. …

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