chevronnigeriaBig Oil company Chevron may have hoped that its legal troubles as far as Nigeria were over.

However, in a great victory for human rights campaigners, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has fixed June 14, 2010 to open appeal hearings in the case.

The case is called Bowoto v. Chevron, and is a landmark human rights case that went to trial in a US federal court in San Francisco in November 2008.

Brought under the alien tort statute, the suit seeks to hold Chevron accountable for serious human rights violations committed abroad.

Chevron was charged with human rights abuses arising from its complicity with the Nigerian military and “kill and go” mobile police in their campaign of terror against members of the Ilaje community in the Niger Delta.

The lawsuit is based on a 1998 incident in which Nigerian soldiers shot nonviolent protesters at Chevron’s Parabe offshore platform.

The plaintiffs allege that the soldiers were paid by Chevron, ferried to the platform in Chevron-leased helicopters, and supervised by Chevron personnel. Two protesters were killed in the brutal attack and many others were injured and subsequently tortured.

After ten long years, the trial provided the Nigerian villagers with the opportunity to confront the oil giant and demand public accountability for the company’s involvement in gross human rights abuses.

The plaintiffs sought compensation for the murders and the injuries suffered. A related case also sought ongoing transparency by Chevron about its use of the Nigerian police and military.

Although U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston had previously found that there was sufficient evidence to allow a jury to find Chevron liable for the human rights abuses suffered by the plaintiffs, in November 2008 a jury found in favor of the defendants on all charges.

The plaintiffs have now filed a notice of appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. So Chevron will have its day in court again.

More information from here.