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Colombia charges Chiquita with funding right-wing paramilitary group

COLOMBIA brought charges against bosses of multinational company Chiquita on Friday over payments made via subsidiaries to fund right-wing paramilitary groups.

The Attorney General charged 13 company executives of Chiquita Brands with “aggravated conspiracy to commit a crimes” after evidence was discovered of cash payments being made to the armed group the United Self Defenders of Colombia (AUC).

It is alleged payments of $1.7 million (£1.3m) were made over a 10-year period through Banadex and Banacol, two local subsidiaries of Chiquita Brands.

Colombian prosecutors have “established that some of the payments were given directly and deposited to bank accounts of an organisation created to support the self defenders’ armed illegal structures.”

The AUC was established in 1997, clashing with Farc and ELN during Colombia’s deadly armed conflict. They were responsible for attacks on civilians, including the notorious Mapiripan massacre, during which at least 30 people were killed with many beheaded and disembowelled.

Chiquita Brands was fined $25m (£19.2m) in the US after it admitted financing paramilitary groups, but it has never faced action in Colombia and the relatives of those killed have not received any compensation.

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