(Repeats for wider distribution)
By Christine Kearney
NEW YORK, April 6 A closely watched lawsuit
brought on behalf of executed Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa
and others against oil company Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) is
now due to go to trial on May 26, a lawyer for the plaintiffs
said on Monday.
The trial, which was scheduled to begin on April 27, was
postponed last week by U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood in
Manhattan federal court, said Jennifer Green, a lawyer for the
The oil company faces charges that include human rights
violations in Nigeria in connection with the torture and death
of Saro-Wiwa and eight other protesters after they were
executed by the Nigerian government in 1995.
Shell has long denied allegations that it played any role
in their deaths.
Shell could be forced to pay millions of dollars in damages
if found responsible in the case that was first filed in 1996
by the family of Saro-Wiwa, an environmentalist and author.
Saro-Wiwa, who was leader of rights group Movement for the
Survival of Ogoni People, led campaigns against multinational
companies working in the Niger Delta. He argued that they did
not pass along any benefits from the industry and that they
damaged the environment.
The activists were hanged on Nov. 10, 1995, in Port
Harcourt, Nigeria, after what the lawsuit called a sham trial
based on fabricated charges.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are arguing that
the executions by the Nigerian military junta were carried out
with the "knowledge, consent and/or support" of Shell.
No U.S. jury has found a multinational company liable in
the United States of human rights abuses, although a few cases
have been settled out of court. If Shell is found accountable,
the case could affect how multinational companies conduct
A federal jury in San Francisco cleared Chevron in December
of liability sought by Nigerians for a violent clash on an oil
platform off their country's coast more than a decade ago.
(Reporting by Christine Kearney; Editing by Toni Reinhold)