On Dec. 1 indigenous Guatemalan Angelica Choc and her lawyers, Klippensteins Barristers & Solicitors, announced a lawsuit in Ontario, Canada, against the Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals Inc. for the murder of Choc’s husband, Adolfo Ich Chamán, in the community of El Estor in the eastern department of Izabal on Sept. 27, 2009. Choc charges that security guards working for HudBay, HMI Nickel Inc., and their Guatemalan subsidiary, Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel, murdered Ich, a leader in the local Q’eqchi’ community, because of his opposition to violations by the mining companies.
The lawsuit seeks $2 million in general damages and $10 million in punitive damages. Choc is taking the case to Canadian civil courts because of the high level of impunity in criminal cases in Guatemala. The Canadian organization Rights Action has expressed hope that the suit will set a precedent for such actions. According to HudBay official John Vincic, the company’s own investigation found that none of its employees were involved in the killing. He called the suit “misconceived” and “without merit.” (Rights Action, Dec. 2; CBC News, Canada, Dec. 2; Prensa Libre, Guatemala, Dec. 3)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 5.