The hearing on a human flicking case filed against prominent U.S military contactor Kellogg. Brown and Root Inc. (KBR) operating in Iraq on behalf of families of 12 Nepalese killed in Iraq in 2004 will begin on January 12 next year at the District Court of California, Los Angeles.
The US based law firm Cohen Milstein, which has been fighting against the wrongdoings of big corporations, has filed a lawsuit on August 27 this year with the help of Buddhi Prasad Gurung as witness.
Gurung was in another car and was thus not kidnapped by an Iraqi insurgent group; while 12 others were kidnapped and subsequently killed.
Cohen Milstein Attorney Mathew K. Handley, who also worked as a peace corps volunteer in Nepal from 1997 to 1999, said on Monday that the court would decide after the hearing whether the case could be termed "human trafficking". "If the court decides the case can qualify as human trafficking, it will move ahead", he said at a press meet adding, "Otherwise, the case will be scrapped."
It is the first time citizens have sought protection of their human rights in a US court, according to him.
His law firm has claimed in its lawsuit that KBR was involved in human trafficking as the 13 men were in the process of being transported to a US military base in Iraq against their will. It has been argued in the lawsuit that they were transported to Iraq after their passports were confiscated in Jordan by its Jordan based sub-contractor Daoud and Partner before they were taken to Iraq.
However, on November 22, KBR asked the court to dismiss the complaint arguing that the Nepali men were not deceived and trafficked. Force labor and involuntary servitude are not violations of international law, according to KBR argument.
The company has also asked the court to transfer the case to Houston, Taxes, where KBR headquarters is located. Apparently, such cases are taken relatively lightly there, according to Handley.
The hearing regarding the request for dismissal of he case and its transfer will begin on December 12, KBR is a controversial company because of its political connections. Incumbent U.S Vice President Dick Cheney was chairman and chief executive officer of Halliburton, the parent company of KBR from 1995 to 2000 before he joined the Bush administration. On April 5, 2007, Halliburton broke ties with KBR.
Cohen Milstein had also been successful in making Daoud and Partner compensate through the order of the U.S Administrative Law Court for the Department of Labor on May 22 this year.
The court had ordered monthly payment of US$ 233 s compensation to each spouse and set of parents of the murdered Nepalese with an additional 75 dollars for men who had children.
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