SANTIAGO – Nine of the famous 33 miners, trapped five years ago for 70 days some 700 meters (2,295 feet) down a mineshaft in northern Chile, filed suit Monday against their former lawyers for committing fraud, the workers said.
The court case seeks reparations from attorneys Remberto Valdes and Fernando Garcia, who represented “the 33” with regard to the book, film and television rights that were forthcoming as a result of the tragic accident.
Among the irregularities cited in the lawsuit, entered by attorney Alejandro Peña, were “being pressured into signing contracts ceding their rights, plus the deception of making them believe it would be the miners themselves who would control the companies” founded to handle their business opportunities.
The miners said the lawyers committed fraud in setting up those companies to manage business activities in the name of “the 33,” since they never saw any of the income.
The distrust goes back to 2010, when the group of miners now filing suit reviewed the contracts drawn up in association with attorneys Valdes and Garcia, and realized that “we had no rights in the matter, all the money was going to the attorneys,” Luis Urzua recalled.
The miners who signed the lawsuit were Juan Carlos Aguilar, Jorge Galleguillos, Víctor Zamora, Richard Villarroel, Osman Araya, Mario Gomez, Claudio Acuña, Ariel Ticona and Luis Urzua, who concluded that “we have nothing to lose, but a lot to gain, because this is payback time.”