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Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Extraditions sought in Chiquita terror probe

March 21, 2007

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— Colombia's attorney general said Tuesday that his office would try to seek the extradition of eight executives from Chiquita Brands International, the Ohio banana company that last week admitted to paying $1.7 million to right-wing death squads that have killed thousands in this country's long civil conflict.

In deal with the Justice Department, Chiquita last week agreed to plead guilty to doing business with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a coalition of paramilitary groups whose members have massacred peasants and murdered leftist activists for years. In agreeing to pay a $25 million fine, the company characterized the payments as extortion that helped protect banana workers in the northwest Uraba region near the border with Panama.

In forceful, lengthy comments to RCN Radio, Attorney General Mario Iguaran said his office did not view Chiquita's link with the paramilitaries as "an extortionist, victim-of-extortion relationship." He said his office, which has been investigating Chiquita, would carefully study the plea deal and determine if the U.S. executives, whose names were withheld by the court and the banana company, could be extradited to Colombia.

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