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An Anglo-Swiss mining company should be held liable for alleged human rights violations perpetrated by Peruvian police during an environmental protest, Leigh Day lawyers will argue in the High Court today.
The firm’s clients, Peruvian villagers, allege that two of the protesters were killed and several were severely injured, assaulted and unlawfully detained by the Peruvian National Police during a protest at the Tintaya copper mine in May 2012.
One of the protesters who was allegedly shot by police will travel to the UK to attend the hearing.
The claimants allege that the police, whose attendance at the protest was requested by the mine, used excessive force including firing live ammunition, beat and kicked protesters, subjected them to racial abuse and made them stand for prolonged periods in stress positions in the freezing conditions.
The claimants allege that Xstrata, which owns the mine, knew or ought to have known from past history that the country’s national police had a propensity for using excessive force.
Today the court will hear technical arguments from the defendants that the claims are time barred. However, Leigh Day will argue that while the claims have been running for four years, the time limitation argument was only raised by Xstrata in July.
The case will be determined under Peruvian law and the court will hear evidence from Peruvian legal experts. The claimants allege that Xstrata is liable because it provided significant assistance to the police and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the use of excessive force.
Xstrata denies all the allegations, and maintains that police protection was necessary because thousands of protesters, many armed with traditional slingshots, were marching towards the mine.
The company also argues that the Peruvian police operate independently and that it had no control over their behaviour.