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Mining Firm Accused of Role in Massacre

MONTREAL (CN) - A group representing victims of a massacre in the Democratic Republic of Congo claims Anvil Mining provided logistical support to the Congo military in the October 2004 killings of more than 70 people. The Canadian Association Against Impunity sued the mining company in a class action in Superior Court.

The Quebec-based CAAI was formed by a group of nongovernmental organizations. They claim Anvil helped Congolese soldiers recapture the town of Kilwa after rebels seized it.

Anvil provided airplanes, driver and trucks, which Congolese soldiers used to transport civilians out of town and execute them, according to the complaint.

The insurgency was an economic threat to Anvil because the port of Kilwa is integral to Anvil's operations, CAAI claims.

"This case is brought in Canada because Anvil is a Canadian company who is accountable for the role it played in gross violations of human rights," said Matt Eisenbrandt, legal coordinator of the Canadian Centre for International justice.

Anvil, a copper and silver producer which was Australian-owned at the time of the incident, operates its mine in the Katanga Province of DR Congo. The company acknowledges that it loaned trucks to the military, but claims that the Congolese government requested assistance and it had no choice but to comply.

In 2006, a military trial held in DR Congo charged nine Congolese soldiers and three former Anvil employees with war crimes and complicity to war crimes. All were acquitted in 2007 as a result of numerous irregularities, according to the complaint, which is in French.

"We must continue to fight against impunity. Families of victims have never lost hope of seeing justice done," says Emmanuel Umpula Nkumba, from the Congolese advocacy group African Association of Defense of Human Rights.

The CAAI is represented by Trudel & Johnston.

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