Verdict against lawyer who fought Chevron casts doubt on whether same law is ‘available to all of us’ – Roger Waters to RT
Donziger represented farmers and indigenous people of Ecuador who sued Texaco Petroleum (TexPet) for contaminating the soil and water in the country’s rainforest region between 1964 and 1992.
In 2011, an Ecuadorian court ordered Chevron, a California-based oil and gas giant that bought TexPet in 2000, to pay out $9.5 billion.
However, Chevron filed a counterclaim, and a US judge refused to enforce the $9.5 billion ruling, saying that Donziger secured the favorable verdict through bribery and witness-tampering.
The lawyer, who has been under house arrest since August 2019, was charged with contempt for defying a court order to hand over his computer and other electronic devices, and last year was disbarred from practicing law in New York. On Friday, he was sentenced to six months in jail.Also on rt.com ‘This is a retaliation case,’ US lawyer who sued Chevron says, after landing six-month sentence despite UN’s call for his release
Donziger, who denies any wrongdoing, has many supporters, including his friend Roger Waters, co-founder of Pink Floyd. The rock star and activist told RT this week he thinks the ruling against Donziger sets a dangerous precedent.
The verdict raises the question of whether the law is “available to all of us, all members of society, irrespective of the depth of our pockets or our [political] connections,” Waters said.
[Donziger] spent 791 days now under house arrest. And it’s way too much punishment, because all he did was deny judge Lewis A. Kaplan access to his computer and his cell phone – to give those two pieces of equipment to Chevron Corporation, who are the people whom he is fighting this battle against on behalf of his clients. It would completely contravene all the rules of [attorney-client] privilege if he had done that.
Last week, a UN expert panel called Donziger’s detention “arbitrary,” arguing that he has already served the maximum possible penalty on his charges “some four times over.”
Waters said it would be fair for Chevron to compensate Ecuadorian villagers in accordance with the ruling Donziger had won in 2011. The singer quoted a local environmental activist as saying that the oil company’s actions were tantamount to “very slow-motion mass murder.”
Chevron, however, argues that TexPet had already done its share of the cleanup, and the rest was the responsibility of Ecuador’s state oil company Petroecuador.
“The government of Ecuador oversaw and certified the successful completion of TexPet’s remediation and fully released TexPet from further environmental liability,” Chevron said on its website. “Petroecuador, however, failed to conduct the cleanup it promised and has continued to operate and expand oil operations in the former concession over the past 20 years.”
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