ExxonMobil agreed on Monday to an out-of-court settlement in a long-running lawsuit brought against the company by villagers of Indonesia over allegations of human rights abuses.
In the two-decade-long legal battle, the locals said they were subjected to torture, sexual assault and physical abuse by Indonesian military officials contracted to provide security to the organisation.
The case, brought against the company in 2001 by 11 villagers of Aceh province, was due to go on trial on 24 May in Washington. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed as it is confidential.
“Our clients… bravely took on one of the largest and most profitable corporations in the world and stuck with the fight for more than 20 years,” Agnieszka Fryszman, an attorney at Cohen Milstein, told AFP.
“We are so pleased that now, on the eve of trial, we were able to secure a measure of justice for them and their families.”
Meanwhile, ExxonMobil said it condemned such abuses “including those asserted in this case against the Indonesian military”, reported BBC.
“It should be noted while there were no allegations that any employee directly harmed any of the plaintiffs, the settlement brings closure for all parties,” said the oil giant.
“We express our deepest sympathy to the families and the people who were involved.”
The alleged atrocities took place in Arun field in North Aceh, which has been listed as among the world’s largest natural gas fields.
The plaintiffs, identified in their plea as only Jane and John Doe for their safety, alleged a number of crimes committed against the villagers, including sexual assault of pregnant women and men being subjected to torture through electric shocks, burns, and knife-inflicted graffiti on the back.
The petitioners expressed their satisfaction with the outcome.
“While nothing will bring back my husband, this victory delivers the justice we have spent two decades fighting for and will be life-changing for me and my family,” one of the villagers was quoted as saying by BBC News.