Shell Settles Nigeria Case for $15.5M
Saro-Wiwa settlement is milestone for international law
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2009 5:40 AM CDT
Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr., whose father and eight others oil industry opponents were executed on Nov. 10, 1995, after a military tribunal convicted them on trumped-up charges.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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(Newser) – Royal Dutch Shell agreed to settle a lawsuit over the 1995 deaths of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Nigerians for $15.5 million, reports the Financial Times. Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists against petroleum exploitation were executed by the Nigerian military government, allegedly at the behest of the oil giant. In a statement Shell continued to deny it had any role in their deaths, but said it would focus on "the process of reconciliation."

Shell was being sued in New York under the Alien Tort Claims Act, an 18th-century statute that allows foreigners to bring human rights cases before US courts. The law was largely neglected until recent years, when lawyers began using it to seek redress for international law violations. "This settlement provides another building block in the efforts to forge a legal system that holds violators accountable wherever they may be," said the plaintiff's trial counsel.