Indonesia torture case vs ExxonMobil revived

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 08, 2011 11:38 AM
Indonesia torture case vs ExxonMobil revived

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Friday revived a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp by Indonesian villagers who accused the oil giant's security forces of committing murder, torture and other wrongdoing.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said companies are not immune from liability under a 1789 U.S. law known as the Alien Tort Statute for "heinous conduct" allegedly committed by its agents in violation of the law of a nation.

The case had been brought by 15 villagers from Indonesia's Aceh territory, who alleged that Exxon's activity in the United States and at a facility in Aceh led to their injuries.

Friday's ruling puts the D.C. Circuit at odds with the federal appeals court in New York, which in a landmark ruling last September said companies cannot be liable in U.S. courts for violating international human rights law.

This split of opinion may make it more likely that the U.S. Supreme Court may eventually resolve the issue.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)