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Rio Tinto Genocide Lawsuit Thrown Out by Appeals Court

Rio Tinto Plc, the world’s second-biggest mining company, won dismissal of a lawsuit in the U.S. accusing it of contributing to genocide in Papua New Guinea.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco today affirmed a lower court’s ruling dismissing the case. The appeals court’s decision was prompted by an April 22 order by the U.S. Supreme Court, which in a separate case brought against Royal Dutch Shell Plc had scaled back application of the 1789 Alien Tort Statute.

That law, also invoked in the Rio Tinto case, has been a favorite tool of human-rights advocates seeking to hold companies responsible in U.S. courts for atrocities overseas.

The lawsuit against London-based Rio Tinto stems from the deaths of thousands of indigenous people starting in 1988 on the island of Bougainville, where Rio Tinto was part of a group operating the world’s largest open copper pit.

The case is Sarie v. Rio Tinto Plc, 02-56256, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco.)

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