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Last updated 5:17AM ET
February 26, 2021
Union Workers Blame Colombian Authorities for Trial Delays
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - The union activists suing Birmingham-based Drummond Company in the 2001 murders of three labor leaders say deliberate foot-dragging by Colombian authorities is preventing the jury from hearing their star witness.

Concerned by the delay, 12 Democratic Congressmen wrote Colombia's vice president last week asking him to intercede.

There is also worry over the safety of the witness, Rafael Garcia, who is in a maximum-security Bogota prison.

Garcia says he witnessed Drummond's top Colombian executive hand over ''a briefcase full of cash'' to an illegal right-wing militia to have two of the three union leaders slain. The executive, Augusto Jimenez, vehemently denies the accusation and is suing Garcia for libel.

The plaintiffs rested Monday in the Birmingham court case, which is being tried under a law that allows U.S. corporations to be sued for their conduct abroad. However, Federal Judge Karon Bowdre has said she'll call a recess if the Garcia deposition can be obtained.

Witnesses for the plaintiffs say Drummond regularly paid the paramilitaries, provided them with sport utility vehicles and motorcycles, fed them and let them gas up at its coal mine in northeastern Colombia.

Drummond executives have repeatedly denied any connection to the militia groups.

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