In court papers filed in the case of John Doe v. ExxonMobil Corporation, villagers recount in harrowing detail how they and their family members were caught and tortured in and around an ExxonMobil gas plant in Indonesia's Aceh Province.
"He was taken by soldiers," one of the 11 plaintiffs in the case, identified only as Jane Doe V, says of her husband, who went missing in January 2001. "Then his hand was cut off and they took his eye."
The lawsuit, which was originally filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia in the U.S. in June 2001, alleges that oil and gas giant ExxonMobil was responsible for human rights violations, including sexual assault, battery and wrongful death, committed by members of the Indonesian military. The soldiers had been hired to guard the ExxonMobil plant in Aceh in the late 1990s and were thus under contract with ExxonMobil when the abuses took place, the lawsuit says.
ExxonMobil has tried to have the plaintiffs' claims dismissed nine times, slowing the legal process to a crawl. The case has dragged through the courts for over 20 years. Now, however, lawyers for the plaintiffs are hoping they will get their long-awaited day in court.
Agnieszka Fryszman, who serves as co-counsel in the case, told Nikkei Asia that the plaintiffs' legal team has filed over 300 pages of factual findings, approximately 400 exhibits and five expert reports. It has conducted around 40 depositions to prepare the case for trial. In November, the team filed a motion to set a trial date, which could happen as soon as this spring, depending on the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
"This case raises important issues. We are confident in the evidence we have presented and look forward to proving the claims in court," she said.
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