Latin America & Caribbean

UK firm agrees to pay compensation to Peruvian farmers

A UK-based mining company, Monterrico Metals, has agreed an out-of court settlement to pay an undisclosed amount as compensation to 33 farmers in Peru.

They say they were beaten and tortured by Peruvian police in an incident in 2005.

The farmers accuse the company of complicity.

Monterrico Metals denied the allegations throughout in London's High Court and settled without admitting liability.

What happened in August 2005 was partially recorded in photographs taken by police and security personnel protecting the mine site.

The farmers say they were beaten, threatened, hooded and held captive after being attacked by the police during a march by farmers against the Rio Blanco copper mine, in Piura department, near the border with Ecuador.

Two women were sexually abused and five claimants were shot, one losing an eye.

One protester was shot and bled to death the following day.

'Salutary lesson'

A High Court trial, which was scheduled to begin in October, was to hear from 80 witnesses.

The mine is run by Monterrico, a subsidiary of the Chinese Zijin Mining Group.

As part of the out-of-court settlement, Monterrico Metals imposed a gagging order on the amount of the compensation payouts to the 33 Peruvian farmers and Leigh Day, the British legal firm which represented them.

One of Leigh Day's partners, Richard Meeran, said it had been a costly exercise for Monterrico Metals.

"Our clients suffered deplorable mistreatment and were denied justice in Peru," said Mr Meeran.

"This constitutes a salutary lesson for multinationals operating in developing countries," he said.

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