BP implicated in kidnap
The oil giant BP is facing claims that it was complicit in the kidnap and torture of a prominent trade union leader in Colombia, where until recently it operated a £1bn oilfield and pipeline.
According to the Sunday Times, the company last week received a letter from British lawyers representing Gilberto Torres, who was kidnapped 12 years ago while on his way home from a BP pumping station in Casanare, eastern Colombia.
The Business and Human Right Resource Centre reports that Torres received threats after organising a strike over the disappearance of an oil union colleague and complaining about the training of a BP-funded brigade of Colombian soldiers at the station.
Five paramilitaries convicted by a Colombian judge of the kidnapping claimed during their trial that the crime was ordered and assisted by Ocensa, a joint venture pipeline company part-owned and operated by BP.
Judge Teresa Robles Munar found in December 2011 that the facts pointed to “Ocensa’s role in the kidnapping” of Torres for “threatening [the pipeline company’s] economic interests”.
However, the Colombian authorities did not act on her suggestion that a criminal investigation be launched into Ocensa. BP vowed to “vigorously” defend the claim. “We refute any involvement with or knowledge of Mr Torres’ experience, or that BP in any way hired, worked with or encouraged paramilitary activities in Colombia,” it said.
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