Judges in the Dutch city of The Hague have ruled that a case brought by a group of Nigerian widows who accuse the oil giant Shell of complicity in their husbands’ executions can continue, rejecting Shell’s request to have the lawsuit dismissed.
Among those hanged in 1995 by the Nigerian military regime over their protests against oil pollution in the region of Ogoniland was the famous playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa.
Shell has denied any wrongdoing.
Two of the women bringing the case sat in the front row of court, as the judges explained this was only an interim judgment.
Esther Kiobel and Victoria Bera accuse Shell of instigating the brutal crackdown on protesters in an effort to protect their economic interests in Ogoniland – thus being complicit in the execution of the Ogoni Nine.
The men were hanged after what was widely condemned by the international community as a sham trial.
The judges ruled that Shell must now hand over confidential internal documents that relate to the Nigerian trial, and invited the women to provide evidence to support their claims that witnesses had been bribed.
The widows want Shell to offer a public apology and compensation for the financial and emotional suffering caused by their husbands’ deaths.