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BREAKING NEWS – Judge Recuses Himself From Chevron Case

Date: Sep 4, 2009

Ecuador Judge Says Recuses Himself From Lawsuit Vs Chevron – Dow Jones

The Ecuadorean judge purportedly caught on videotape discussing a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against Chevron Corp. (CVX) has recused himself from the on-going case, Judge Juan Nunez said Friday.

Chevron released recordings Monday that it claims shows Nunez, who oversees the Lago Agrio court where the trial is being held, affirming that he would hold the oil company culpable for environmental damages. It said the videos prove the judge should be disqualified from the case.

Nunez has contended that the video footage was manipulated. Chevron has said the videos are authentic and haven’t been doctored.

“I have communicated with both sides in this case that I recuse myself from continuing with this case,” Nunez told Dow Jones Newswires. “However, I will continue with my work as a judge, and as president of the Lago Agrio Court, because I have not committed any illegality or irregularity.”

Nunez declined to explain the reason for his recusal. He did say that he had notified both Chevron and the plaintiffs, a group residing in the Amazon region that accuses Chevron of being responsible environmental contamination that took place decades ago, of his recusal.

The group claims that Chevron should pay for pollution caused by the oil operations of Texaco, which the energy giant acquired in 2001, while Chevron says Ecuador released it from liabilities after a cleanup by the company.