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Ford Sued In Argentina Over Alleged Kidnappings,

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Ford Sued In Argentina Over Alleged Kidnappings, Torture

02-23-06 08:37 PM EST

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP)--Former union organizers filed a civil suit against Ford Motor Co. (F) and its Argentine subsidiary on Thursday, claiming they were kidnapped and tortured inside the company's compound during the 1976- 1983 military dictatorship.

The civil suit adds to a criminal one filed against Ford Argentina by the same workers in 2003.

The company "planned and executed a precise and concrete plan to violently get rid of the labor union activities, with the purpose of establishing a terrorism of enterprise that would allow it to freely reduce its staff and...speed up production lines," former worker Francisco Perrotta alleges in the lawsuit, according to excerpts released by the workers' lawyer, Tomas Ojea Quintana.

During the early months of the dictatorship, "some of us were kidnapped by the military inside the factory and taken to a clandestine, precarious detention center near the factory's sports center," co-plaintiff Pedro Troiani alleges in the suit.

"There we were hooded, beaten, forced to face mock firing squads and tortured, " Troiani adds. "Some were given electric shocks."

Ford Argentina did not answer repeated phone calls seeking comment.

The suit accuses the company of providing the workers' identities to the security agents who allegedly carried out the kidnappings and torture.

"The military forces used means made available by the company," alleges another plaintiff, Vicente Portillo.

Ojea Quintana said his clients were seeking an undetermined amount in financial compensation plus "a reparation of another kind, such as a public apology," and will ask the company to install a memorial at the site in General Pacheco, some 40 kilometers north of the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires.

He added that the workers also were seeking to have four former company executives and a retired military officer questioned by the court.

"The proof we have gathered indicates that those people participated directly in the kidnapping and torture of the union leaders," Ojea Quintana said.

Human rights groups say some 30,000 people were kidnapped, killed or disappeared during the "dirty war" waged by the military dictatorship against suspected dissidents, including labor and political activists, journalists and others. Official reports put the figure at 13,000.

Ford is not the only automaker linked to abuses during the dirty war. Victims and their relatives have accused Mercedes Benz's Argentine affiliate of complicity in the kidnapping of 18 employees between 1976 and 1977. Fifteen of the workers who disappeared have never been found.

Link: http://news.morningstar.com/news/DJ/M02/D2...ml?Cat=Durables

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