29 October 2009
A high-stakes legal battle between the worlds second largest oil company and residents of Ecuadors Amazon region is heating up.
Lawyers for the local people who say their lives have been ruined by Chevron are making new claims about secret videos that have put the trial on hold.
Those videos show the Ecuadorean judge overseeing the $27 billion lawsuit in an apparently compromising meeting with businessmen. Chevron, which leaked the tapes in August to claim that the trial was unsound, has now admitted that its lawyers met with one of the businessmen at the time the recordings were made. Chevron had previously denied any knowledge of the meetings.
Ecuador's government has insisted that the tapes were doctored to try to discredit the trial and give Chevron more time to work on its legal strategy to avert paying damages.
Lucia Newman, Al Jazeera's Latin America editor, reports from Ecuador on the case, and Karen Hinton, a spokesperson for the plaintiffs, talks about the recent developments in the lawsuit, including the revelation that Chevron's key witness in the alleged bribery scandal is a convicted felon with a checkered past.