Drummond Accused of Killing Trade Unionists, Former Colombian President Uribe Called to Testify

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 11 November 2010

Gary Drummond (left), the owner of Drummond Corporation, is a close friend of former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe (right)

Gary Drummond (left), the owner of Drummond Corporation, is a close friend of former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe (right)

A paramilitary death squad commander has revealed how executives of the US mining multinational Drummond ‘congratulated’ paramilitary commanders for arranging the assassination of two union leaders at Drummond’s Colombian coal mines. The court room admission, by now jailed paramilitary leader Alcides Mattos Tabares, comes just days after former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe was subpoenaed to testify in a civil case against Alabama-based Drummond for their alleged links to paramilitaries.

Mr Mattos Tabares explained how following the 2001 assassinations of Valmore Locarno and Victor Hugo Orcasita (the President and Vice-President respectively of the trade union representing workers at Drummond), two senior members of the Drummond management team met with the paramilitary commanders responsible for the murders to thank them for a successful operation.

Although one of Drummond’s former contractors in Colombia, Jaime Blanco Maya – the brother of the current Colombian Inspector General Edgardo Maya – has been arrested and charged in connection with the killings, so far no senior Drummond officials have been detained. But human right groups insist that both Gary Drummond, the US owner of the multinational, and Jean Jakim, Drummond’s head of security, were implicated in the murders and point to additional testimony from a former member of the DAS secret police who claims to have seen Drummond’s president in Colombia, Augusto Jimenez, handing over a bag full of cash to notorious paramilitary commander ‘Jorge 40’.

In a separate development on Wednesday last week, the ex-President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, was served with court papers which will force him to testify in an ongoing lawsuit against the company which has been filed by a group of 500 victims of the paramilitaries who are attempting to claim compensation from Drummond. According to their case, Drummond financed paramilitaries between 1999 and 2005 to protect the regions around their coal mines and other installations and, during that time, over 100 local people were assassinated by the death squads.

Their lawyers say that Mr Uribe “has direct knowledge of a number of key cases, including the level at which the Colombian Army worked with the paramilitaries to protect the mining installations owned by Drummond”. The former President was served with the subpoena during a visit to Georgetown University in Washington DC last week and could face contempt of court proceedings if he does not attend the hearing.

Ten days ago, another Colombian trade unionist working for Drummond was also murdered.

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