Monday, January 11, 2016

First argument session in Agent Orange lawsuit in France slated for March

The first argument session between lawyers of 26 US chemical firms and plaintiff Tran To Nga - a victim of the defoliant Agent Orange that the US military used during the Vietnam War - is scheduled for March 3.
The day was designated by a judge during a court hearing, the fifth of its kind, in the Crown Court of Evry city in the suburb of Paris on January 7.
The prolonged case is placing the plaintiff at a disadvantage as she is suffering from diseases due to Agent Orange/dioxin exposure, such as type 2-diabetes, mental breakdown and tumours on body.
It also results in additional court charges and fees incurred by both sides, whereas the US defendants have strong financial capability.
During the January 7 hearing, defence lawyers made irrational requests, saying that Nga is expected to undergo new medical tests at a designated clinic.
Previously, they also deliberately provoked an incident about the documents’ authenticity and asked for documents proving that Nga used to work at dioxin-sprayed areas, such as working contracts, paycheck receipts and evidence showing the linkage between herbicides and her diseases.
Lawyers from the Paris-based William “Bourdon & Forestier” law firm representing Nga still affirmed their determination to follow the case. They argued that the demand for the payroll of those who worked during wartime 40 – 50 years ago is unrealistic.
Nga, for her part, said the ultimate goal of the case is getting the world awake to the AO misery and disaster and calling for global efforts to overcome its consequences though peace has been restored for 40 years.
In May 2014, Vietnamese-French Tran To Nga, 74, filed a lawsuit against 26 US chemical firms for producing chemical toxins sprayed by the US army in the war in Vietnam, causing serious consequences for the community, her and her children.
Tran To Nga graduated from a Hanoi university in 1966 and became a war correspondent of the Liberation News Agency, now Vietnam News Agency. She worked in some of the most heavily AO/Dioxin affected areas in southern Vietnam such as Cu Chi, Ben Cat and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, ultimately experiencing contamination effects herself.
Among her three children, the first child died of heart defects and the second suffers from a blood disease.
In 2009, Nga, who contracted a number of acute diseases, appeared as a witness at the Court of Public Opinion in Paris, France against the US chemical companies.
The complaint and related documents were handed over to the Crown Court of Evry city in the suburb of Paris.
From 1961-1971, US troops sprayed more than 80 million litres of herbicides - 44 million litres of which were AO, containing nearly 370 kilograms of dioxin - over southern Vietnam.
As a result, around 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed to the toxic chemical. Many of the victims have died, while millions of their descendants are living with deformities and diseases as a direct result of the chemical’s effects.

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