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U.S. judge cancels N.Y. hearing in Shell-Nigeria trial


Wed Jun 3, 2009 2:02pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge canceled a hearing on Wednesday in the civil trial of Royal Dutch Shell over the alleged involvement of the giant oil producer in the executions of protesters in Nigeria in the 1990s.

Presiding Judge Kimba Wood in U.S. District Court in Manhattan had already postponed the trial indefinitely. In a court order on Wednesday, she said the hearing in the case had also been postponed indefinitely. No reason was given, and no new dates were announced.

Shell is accused of human rights abuses, including violations connected with the 1995 hangings of prominent activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other protesters by Nigeria’s then-military government.

Shell has denied allegations of involvement.

The case was brought by relatives of Saro-Wiwa and others under a 1789 U.S. statute, the Alien Tort Claims Act, allowing noncitizens to file cases in U.S. courts for human rights abuses occurring overseas.

Earlier on Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York reinstated a related case against Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd.

The cases are Wiwa et al v Royal Dutch Shell et al 96-08386, Wiwa et al v Anderson et al 01-01909 and Wiwa v Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

(Reporting by Christine Kearney and Grant McCool, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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