A landmark trial addressing corporate culpability for human-rights violations committed on foreign soil gets under way this week, testing whether an 18th-century antipiracy law applies to modern business practices. At issue is the 2001 murder of three Colombian mining-union leaders, the Wall Street Journal reports, and under scrutiny is the alleged involvement of an American mining company.
Birmingham, Alabama-based Drummond denies complicity in the murders. Rights groups see the case as a bellwether, and accusations that sound like something out of a spy thriller have other corporations on high alert. This is the first case of its kind to reach trial; another, involving an oil company doing business in Myanmar, was settled, and others are pending.