Chiquita Brands faces new death squad charges in Colombia

Colombian prosecutors have charged 13 Chiquita Brands International employees with aiding a right-wing death squad that murdered hundreds of people at the turn of the century.

In a statement issued on Friday, prosecutors said that they traced payments made by a local Chiquita affiliate to a paramilitary group that operated in Colombia's volatile Uraba region from 1996 to 2004. Some of the money was allegedly used to buy hundreds of machine guns.

The company based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, said in 2007 it had been forced to pay protection money to paramilitary groups and guerrilla organizations operating near its Colombia banana farms and paid a $25 million fine as part of a U.S. court settlement.

The company has not responded to the new charges levelled by Colombian prosecutors.