At Chevron’s Annual General Meeting today, Larry Bowoto, the lead plaintiff in the landmark case Bowoto v. Chevron, called for the oil giant’s accountability for human rights violations and environmental abuses. Bowoto sustained critical injuries after military forces hired by Chevron opened fire on a peaceful protest in the Niger Delta exactly ten years ago today. He called for the corporation to “give up violence as a way of doing business.” His pleas were met with harsh criticism by Chairman and CEO David O’Reilly, who declared Mr. Bowoto a “criminal.”
Photo: Demonstrator Larry Bowoto, center right wearing white, leads other demonstrators from a Chevron shareholders meeting at Chevron headquarters in San Ramon, Calif., Wednesday, May 28, 2008. Bowoto and several other Nigerians are involved in a lawsuit against Chevron for two government military attacks that left protesters injured and some killed during a rally against the pollution of fishing grounds and farms, according to the lawsuit.(Associated Press/Yahoo! News. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Mr. Bowoto’s lawyer Bert Voorhees issued the following statement in response:
“We are outraged at the comments of Mr. O'Reilly. Such remarks further reveal the profound insensitivity of Chevron’s executives to the egregious conduct and environmental destruction that they, in fact, are responsible for in Nigeria. It is more than a little ironic that a company that has wantonly polluted the Ilaje homeland and unleashed the notorious kill-and-go Nigerian military on unarmed protestors has accused Mr. Bowoto of engaging in criminal conduct. It is Mr. O'Reilly and not Mr. Bowoto who should be charged with criminal misconduct. We look forward to presenting his case in court." Watch Bert Voorhees' interview on KTVU2News
Bowoto v. Chevron, No. 99-2506, will go to trial before Federal District Court Judge Susan Illston in September in San Francisco; a related case in California Superior Court, No. CGC-03-417580, will also proceed to trial before Judge Harold E. Kahn in the fall. In addition to Mr. Voorhees' firm, Traber & Voorhees, and EarthRights International, the plaintiffs are represented by several law firms including Hadsell Stormer Keeny Richardson & Renick, Siegel & Yee, Paul Hoffman, Michael Sorgen, Robert Newman, Anthony DiCaprio, and Richard Wiebe; as well as the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.