Court revives human rights case vs Rio Tinto

Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:41pm EDT

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(Reuters) - A U.S. federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit accusing Rio Tinto Plc of human rights violations related to Papua New Guinea, where it once ran one of the world's largest copper and gold mines.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's dismissal of claims for genocide and war crimes, while upholding the dismissal of claims for racial discrimination and crimes against humanity.

In their lawsuit, current and former residents of the island of Bougainville claimed that Rio Tinto decimated the island and forced native workers to live in "slave like" conditions.

They also contended that when workers sabotaged the mine, Rio Tinto goaded the Papua New Guinea government into exacting bloody retribution against residents.

Rio Tinto spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

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