The class-action lawsuit against Chiquita which ended on Monday focussed on nine cases, which were chosen out of hundreds of claims against the banana company.

The jury found that the AUC was responsible for eight of the nine murders examined as part of the lawsuit.

The jury also ruled that Chiquita had knowingly provided substantial assistance to the AUC, to a degree sufficient to create a foreseeable risk of harm.

Chiquita said in a statement released after the verdict that the situation in Colombia was “tragic for so many, including those directly affected by the violence there, and our thoughts remain with them and their families”.

“However, that does not change our belief that there is no legal basis for these claims,” it added.

The company said it remained confident that its legal position would ultimately prevail.

Agnieszka Fryszman, one of the leading lawyers for the plaintiffs, meanwhile praised the families she represented, saying that they had “risked their lives to come forward to hold Chiquita to account, putting their faith in the United States justice system”.

She added that “the verdict does not bring back the husbands and sons who were killed, but it sets the record straight and places accountability for funding terrorism where it belongs: at Chiquita’s doorstep”.

Another lawyer for the Colombian families, Leslie Kroeger, said that “after a long 17 years against a well-funded defence, justice was finally served”.

A second case against Chiquita brought by another group of plaintiffs is due to start on 15 July.

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