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Witness approved in Drummond-Colombian deaths’ case

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A former Colombian security official who claims he saw an official of Alabama-based Drummond Ltd. pay for the murders of union leaders in the South American country can testify in the upcoming civil trial over the deaths, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre came on the same day the Colombian government confirmed it was investigating allegations that Drummond collaborated with paramilitary forces to kill union members who work at its huge coal mine on the country’s northern coast.

Drummond has denied any involvement in the killing of its workers, but neither the company nor its attorney immediately returned messages seeking comment Tuesday.

The Colombian union Sintramienergetica filed suit in Birmingham claiming Drummond paid paramilitary gunmen to murder three labor leaders who represented Drummond employees in 2001. Two of the men were taken off a company bus and shot, according to the suit. The union’s wrongful death claims are against Drummond Ltd., the Colombian arm of Drummond, and its president, Augusto Jimenez.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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