Complaint against Nestlé over Colombian death

A human rights group and a Colombian trade union have filed charges against Nestlé for negligence in the case of the murder of a former employee in Colombia.

This content was published on March 6, 2012 minutes and agencies

Sinaltrainal and the Germany-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), filed the charges against Nestlé and members of its senior management with the public prosecutor in the Swiss canton of Zug.

The case concerns Luciano Romero, a former employee of the Nestlé subsidiary Cicolac, who was murdered by paramilitaries in 2005 in Valledupar in the north east of the country. Nestlé is accused of being co-responsible for his death by failing to take preventative measures.

The criminal complaint could set a legal precedent as it could mark the first time a Swiss company has been held liable in Switzerland for a crime committed abroad, ECCHR said in a statement.

Romero had received death threats after being wrongly described by the local Nestlé management as a [left-wing] guerilla fighter. A commander of the paramilitary group convicted of Romero’s killing gave evidence that his group was part-funded by Cicolac.

Sinaltrainal and ECCHR accuse Nestlé management of having been aware of the activities of its Colombian subsidiary and of not taking the necessary steps to protect Romero.

Nestlé has always denied the allegations, pointing out that Columbia was a very dangerous place at the time. The victim stopped working for Nestle three years before his death.

“Unfortunately union leaders were threatened, abducted and killed, as were members of our local management team and other employees and their families,” Nestlé told the Swiss News Agency.

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